Island News & Views
Go to Site Index See "Island News & Views" main page
General · 17th March 2014
Jim Abram
Happy Saint Patrick's Day!!! A green beer would go good right now! I have been doing media all morning and it will continue the rest of today re: ferries and also our protest on Saturday.

Saturday, March 15th local rally

I would like to thank all of the people who came out in the very stormy weather to exercise their democratic right to protest actions of government that will harm them and their province. I am very sorry for the inconvenience that BCFS caused all of the people waiting in line by delaying the sailing unnecessarily. I am sure I will get some folks thinking, "No, it was the protesters who delayed the sailing!" You would be right to a degree. Some people didn't feel they should have to pay, since we have done this a number of other times and never had to pay. We also never had to pay to go and watch the fireworks from a packed boat on Canada Day. The only thing that has changed is that between then and now the BCFS has tightened up the system for various reasons. But there was still discretion and it was not used in favour of sailing with people who had not paid. That is BCFS prerogative. The protest was arranged at the last minute on Friday and not paying fares was not the focus. The focus was; put the ferry system back in Highways, roll back the fares, stop the cuts and don't mess with the seniors' discount. It certainly turned into something else with security people, dogs and RCMP being called in. After what we went through, I was advised by BCFS management to file a complaint, concerning the over reaction of BCFS management in this instance. I did this on Sunday the 16th.

This protest was being done on behalf of all coastal residents and on behalf of our provincial economy. It was being done in solidarity with other communities that said they had to do it on a Saturday and because they had to miss the March 11th event in Victoria due to work, or whatever. It was being done for you and for me and for all of our families. The people who were there should be applauded for their tenacity and courage and willingness to be out in such ugly weather to express their views to the media. If you know one of them, thank them personally for being there on your behalf. I know there was inconvenience. My daughter and her family (including two kids) sat in the line for two hours while things got sorted out. The important thing is that our issue got knocked up a number of pegs and got major media coverage for three days on TV, radio and in print. The government will see that this is not going to go away. Just remember folks, we need to stick together through thick and thin. We are winning this battle!

March 11th Ferry rally in Victoria

Once again, I need to say "Thank You!", to all of the people who took an entire day out of their life to travel to Victoria and join in with the roughly 2,000 "neighbours" that gathered there to protest the draconian measures of the BC Government regarding our ferry service - our Marine Highway! Quadra Island had the largest contingent of people and had the most speakers. It was an incredible show of strength and resolve on the part of our people and all of the others who attended. The weather was fantastic, the speakers line-up was world class and the performers were absolutely wonderful. The organization came off beautifully and we were officially congratulated for the event by the Sargent-at-Arms of the Legislature and told it was the best organized and well behaved events he had witnessed.

We all owe a great deal of thanks to the team of Quadra folks that helped to make this all come together. First of all, Wendy, my wife and "co-conspiritor". I would have never made it through this without her support and care, not to mention that she is the one who recorded and located the Christy Clark tape that has rocked the Province! She also transcribed it into type so I could send it to Stephen Hume and allow him to do his perfectly timed article in the Vancouver Sun on Monday the 10th, just before the rally.

Next is one of the best organized people whom I have ever met. Michael Stahnke. He organized just about everything: from tents and signs and the band and the buses and helping to get that Christy Clark tape into digital format, and, and, and, etc. He was incredible and we all owe him a huge dept of gratitude.

I also need to thank Pat and Rex Lowes as head ticket sales and arrangers; Susan Westren as poster maker and distributer; Gloria Rolfson for arranging the sign painting workshop and all of her crew of volunteers; Ruth Amiabel for getting us one of the buses donated through the senior's organization and BCFMWU, Terry Hooper for helping with signs and for getting people onto the buses; Teresa Reimer for painting the long, Defend our Marine Highway sign; Geraldine Kenny, Heidi and Christy at Hummingbird and Chris at the Java Shack for fundraising and ticket sales.

I also need to thank the Howlin' Dogs for their stellar performance on the steps of the Legislature and for keeping the 'tempo" up with Smokey adding his talents. The speakers also deserve a big hand and that would be, Liah Windrim and her sister and friend (they also knocked the crowd out with their singing and playing), Cam Pirie for his great "big business" case, Sehleeah Scheevers for her speech on behalf of young families, Ruth Amiabel on behalf of seniors' , Michael Boulet, Chair of the Campbell River Chamber of Commerce, Claire Trevena, MLA, North Island. My speech included my "virtual guest", the Premier, where I played her damaging comments from our 2008 recording to the entire crowd

I am so totally proud of this community. You never cease to amaze me. As the MC of the rally I was on the steps and able to see out over the entire crowd in all directions and it was phenomenal to see all the signs and people and feel all of the energy. You were fabulous. You kept the energy up for almost three hours and that is unheard of. You were "on the road" and at the rally for more than 12 hours. So, all I can say is thank you so much for making Quadra Island such a force to be reckoned with. The government knows we are the leaders.

I also must mention the incredible amount of energy that the coast wide organizing team (of which I was a part) put into this event. We had weekly conference calls for hours at a time and countless emails and three Facebook pages that we were all managing. We had the Sunshine Coast and most of the islands in the mix. They had pretty good turnouts from most areas. It was really tough for the Sunshine Coast people to get to the rally, but they did it at great expense. I made some new friends during this journey and we now have more allies to work with in the future. And there will be more to come!

Q. Cove Sewer

I met with staff last week to discuss the progress being made on the various parts of the sewer issue. Things are moving along. The 5 lots along Green Rd. are the first to be coming into the system very soon. Shortly after that we will be going to referendum on the addition of the other properties that are proposed to be added to the system. I believe that will be in late spring / early summer. There will also be a boundary adjustment to the area along Industrial Way at the request of the landowners in that area. At this time there are no plans for them to get the sewer, so they should be removed from the service area. There is a small adjustment being looked at for Pidcock Rd. also. I know this is an abbreviated version of all of the work that we have been doing on this, but better to tell you something than nothing. Ferries have pretty much eclipsed all else, even though I am still dealing with all the issues, I just have not had time to report back to you about what is going on.

Solid Waste Function (garbage!)

So, up until now we have been running our landfills and all other programs like recycling strictly on the "tipping fees" (the fees collected at the landfill). Now the Greater Board of the Comox Valley Regional District (the two combined boards of SRD and CVRD), that runs the function, tells us in the north that we all must start to charge on our taxes for this function for a long list of reasons, the first of which is they are not getting enough revenue from tipping fees because people are diverting more garbage through other means (ironic, eh?). So we have had some very heated discussions over this topic. I am adamantly opposed to paying on our taxes. This function can be run differently and cost less and we could avoid this taxation. But the SRD does not carry enough votes to out-vote the south. So, this year's budget will see a large chunk of money going into the function from taxes. I voted against this along with a number of other directors and will vote against it again every time it comes up. According to the financial plan the number of tax dollars will increase every year into the future. You will hear more about this later.

Ok. I have to stop here… 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