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General · 18th February 2014
Jim Abram
I know that all of you must realize that there has been one issue taking up most of my time: BC Ferries! Surprise! It will be until we at least get to the big event planned for March 11th. After that we may need to up the ante with more serious action. But that will come later. Right now I am consumed with organization and finding the right speakers, dealing with media and helping organize the event along with a very dedicated few from this island and some from other islands and the Sunshine Coast. Our group is working very well together and giving it 200% all day and night every day and night. When we win this we are going to have one helluva celebration!

So, the date and time is set: March 11th at the Legislature from 11:30 to 1:30. So far cash and donations for three buses have been rounded up and there may be more happening in Campbell River after some of my conversations today with key organizations and businesses.

For those of you who are able, please follow the action on my Facebook page at https://www.facebook.com/JimAbram This will give you a blow by blow description of what is happening and the more you use this tool the faster the word will spread.

We have a growing speakers list beyond compare, a line up of entertainment that you won't want to miss and sign workshops are going to take place soon. I would also encourage you to make your own signs at home. The more the better. I am working on getting a full slate of province wide media people to attend and it is looking very good at this point. There will be press releases and advisories (anyone want to help me out here?) prior to the event. We will need posters to go up also, in all communities. We are also going to be doing some paid ads as we get closer to the event. Letters to the editor couldn't hurt. They will help advertise the event and spread the word on the issues at hand. All coastal communities are being effected along with the entire provincial economy. The province needs to know that and they need to hear it loud and clear from our business community.

To that end, the Union of BC Municipalities has commissioned an economic impact assessment of the Minister's announced changes. The results are expected at the end of this month so that we can rub the collective government nose in the astounding results. This study is what should have been done prior to any plans being made to revamp BCFS. But it wasn't, so local government took it on. I am sure we are going to see a business case for doing what we have asked the government to do: lower the fares, stop the cuts to sailings and put the ferries back into the Highways system.

Due to some disturbing activities by the government, I have to say at this point, for those of you who have not noticed, we are AT WAR!. The BC Govt. is trying to destroy our coastal communities. On Quadra Island we responded with a meeting of between 500 and 600 people and told them what we thought about their proposal and we told them how to fix it. We now have a massive province wide protest planned for March 11th.

At this point in time we, as individuals or as groups such as Ferry Advisory Committees, do not have the right to counter that community mandate given at the community meeting. We are being inundated with calls from Mustel Group (a consulting firm) asking us to take part in a survey to see "which fingers you would rather have cut off". PLEASE DO NOT FALL FOR THIS PLOY! Until we have the results of our March 11th protest we have to stick together and have one voice: lower the fares; keep the schedule intact; put BCFS back in Highways. THAT is our mantra. We have no need to even suggest that we might be willing to negotiate a "better" deal with BCFS. We can do that later if necessary. At his time ALL of your energy should be going into this protest.

I have been an activist since I was 16 yrs. old and will be until I die. The tactics being used on us today are the same ones being used on the population 50 years ago. DO NOT FALL FOR THEM. United we sail, divided we sink!

With regards to the survey that is now going around by phone, look at what the Govt. and BCFS did after they didn't get the results they wanted from our 3700 submissions (all saying "NO"). They put out a survey, similar to the one going around right now, and circulated it to just over 500 people and are taking the word of just over 250 respondents over ours. We had more people at our meeting alone! Here is the link: http://www.vancouversun.com/residents+rate+proposed+changes+Ferries/9474132/story.html They told us that they felt that our opinions were biased and therefore the random poll was more accurate in determining what we need. I am glad I don't have high blood pressure because that comment would have put me over the edge.
As your Director, I am advising you to please "stay the course". Support the protest and destroy the survey. Our strength is in remaining united. (Please remember that).

So, I am going to stop the rant at that and just say, please be in contact with the appropriate people to coordinate your trip to Victoria to save our Marine Highway. For buses, donations and entertainment, contact Michael Stahnke at 285-2830; for carpooling options or volunteering call Pat or Rex Lowes at 285-3790; for speakers, coordination, media and everything else, call me at 285-3355. The sign workshop will be advertised soon I hope.

Q. Cove sewer expansion area

Just a quick note, to those in the area proposed to be added to the sewer system, I will be meeting in the next week with our senior staff to determine the timing of the public assent process and making that happen sooner than later. It has been going on long enough and both staff and I are anxious to try and fix this problem for the benefit of all users of the sewer system.

Timber West meeting

I will be meeting with Timber West senior staff in Campbell River tomorrow to listen to "their plans for Quadra Island" (their words). They are bringing top brass so I assume they are planning some significant activity. I will report back when I know more.

Roadside brushing

As you may have noticed, we finally made it to the top of the list for some brush clearing on the sides of the roads. I have received a number of calls from people that were upset by how this took place in front of their properties. I have been asked by the Ministry of Transportation and Infrastructure to please refer all calls on this matter to Sue Pauwels, our area manager, at "Sue J TRAN:EX Pauwels" . She will be able to discuss the issue with you in detail.

I know that there are dozens of other issues that you would like to hear about but I ask that we put those off until after this ferry protest. It has me pretty much all-consumed at the moment. Feel free to call me between the hours of 8:30 am and 7:00 pm, Monday through Friday (please, not on weekends, folks!) at 285-3355, or you can fax me at 285-3533 or you can email me anytime at jimabramxplornet.ca or by mail at Box 278 in the Cove, V0P 1N0... Lots of choices.

Please do not use my residential phone number for SRD calls. All business calls should be on 285-3355. Many thanks!

Respectfully submitted,

Jim Abram Director,
Discovery Islands - Mainland Inlets (Area C), SRD