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General · 1st April 2014
Jim Abram
What a beautiful April Fool’s Day! (the weather). What a dreadful April Fool’s Day (all of the announcements that impact us). So take your pick! I prefer to remain positive and know that we actually are on the upswing in our battles. (no, I am not delusional!).

Ferries!

The media interview on ferries that I did last night on Global TV at 7pm went exceptionally well and you could see in the face of the host that they are on our side. This is apparent in all of the media that is coming out on a daily basis. We have given this issue “legs” and there is no better outcome from a media perspective than being able to do that. We are rubbing the nose of the government in the mess that they have made. The Minister and the Premier are both on the defensive and we hope to keep them that way until they cave. More and more of the province is coming on-side daily. There isn’t a day that goes by that there aren't a few very good media pieces showing up. So, keep your chin up and your fighting energy on “high”. We will win this battle.

I am sure that you have seen the schedules that were published on-line. They will not work and will change. I am already getting calls and emails, as are the FAC, telling us which sailings do not work for them. The connector ferries from Cortes are unworkable and that will be borne out as soon as they are implemented. We are hoping to have a public meeting the first part of next week to hear your views. I know this is short notice, but that is all we have: short notice! Word will be spread as far as possible by various means.

One of the big issues that we are currently dealing with is the loss of the night watch person. This has serious implications for the ability of the ship to sail on after-hours call outs. They do not have enough crew living on Quadra to make the required crew complement, in some cases. We need a strong case from the BC Ambulance and Paramedic groups to government and to BC Ferries to retain this position.

I know that people will be using the ferry less often and will be using creative means such as carpooling and walking on or even using the water taxi for the 4:30 and 5:25 sailings from CR (which will be at 4:40 and 5:45 come the 28th). BCFS and the govt. will see that the ridership will indeed drop since they have increased the fares. Our points of the past months will be demonstrated to both BCFS and the government. I know, you are already using the ferry as little as possible but I bet these fare increase will cause you to use it less.

AVICC Rally
This is an “Urgent” notice, so please read it and contact the appropriate person(s)
The AVICC (Association of Vancouver Island and Coastal Communities) is coming to Parksville/Qualicum on the 11th and 12th and 13th of April.

I was just invited by them to sit on a panel discussion about BC Ferries. Of course, I accepted.

This gathering is attended by local government leaders from the Sunshine Coast, the Central Coast and all of Vancouver Island. A few years back we held a rally at the Nanaimo AVICC and it was great venue for presenting an issue that effected us all… All of the local govt. reps. came out to the event which had lots of people from all over the coast with signs, etc. It was a "friendly" protest / affirmation of our solidarity with each other on this issue. We got tons of media coverage. The same will hold true this year.

So, this is a major part of "WHAT'S NEXT?" Any takers for organizing.??? Lannie Keller and others from Quadra worked hard on the last successful event. Heidi Ridgeway has offered to help and we will be talking later today.

Let me know your thoughts… There could be between 300 and 500 delegates at the event! I will get every media outlet there.

This event IS NOT a protest. It is a support rally for the local governments that are working hard for us to change the provincial government's mind re: ferry issues. I would suggest that signs carry messages such as:
SUPPORT for local govt actions;
NOTHING anti-Liberal.. can be anti-gvot. action but not partisan - remember that some of these folks will be Lib's;
Destruction of our PROVINCIAL ECONOMY;
Destruction of our LOCAL economy;
Destruction of our local communities:
Destruction of our TOURISM industry;
Put Ferries back in Highways:This is our Marine Highway;
Roll back the fares.. we can't afford them!;
Stop the cuts;
Respect our Seniors;
Etc. … I am sure you get my drift!

This is a Support exercise and a media event to keep the issue alive, and it will do so when coming from so many local governments and their supporters.

The Panel on BC Ferries wil be on Friday, late afternoon. I have asked that it be moved to Saturday, the 12th, to coincide with the rally at noon for maximum participation by delegates.

I need to know if we have enough interested organizers (there won’t be much to do other than a few more signs, and carpooling) before I start my media blitz to get them all there at noon on Saturday. So please get back to me. See my contact info at the end of this report.

The Saturday sessions and rally will be at the Qualicum Beach Civic Centre. Timing should be around 12 noon to about 1:30 for maximum participation of delegates.

Please let me know as soon as possible! This is our big chance to reach the entire province all at once. It also boosts the profile of the AVICC and UBCM position on ferries which is our position too: lower the fares, stop the cuts and put us back into Highways; leave senior’s fares alone.

Quathiaski Cove Sewer Expansion

The expansion efforts have finally reached the point where we are clear on the costs (which were announced at the public sessions) and that we will be going to elector assent by referendum for the larger area (36 lots) and we will still receive a report on the 5 lots along the west side of Green Rd. I believe these 5 will be added in a very simple administrative manner so that they can proceed with hookups. They will not be subject to the cost of expansion associated with the other 36 lots, since they are already right along the existing sewer line. This should all be ready to go by June-ish if everything goes according to plan and only the effected area will vote in the referendum. Staff have been working overtime on this issue to make it happen as soon as possible.

Other Issues
– ongoing work (yes, there is work beyond ferries!)
I am working with the Quadra Circle and the senior’s group to look at expansion of multi-generational housing and assisted living spaces in the Cove area. Grants are being applied for and details are being looked into. I have also spent some time with the existing senior’s housing folks and had a nice photo op with the people that made it happen. I was able to direct a VIHA grant through the SRD in the amount of $7,000.00 for the completion of the last unit.

We have had numerous rezoning applications in the past months and more to come. Many of them have been for private docks for access to properties.

I continue to sit on the BC Ferries Regional District Chairs Group and we will be meeting in the very near future (probably at AVICC) to discuss next steps.

I also continue to sit on the three province wide marine planning initiatives: PNCIMA (Federal planning); MaPP (our area up to Cape Caution - Provincial and First Nations planning); RMAC (same planning process but it is made up of five areas of the coast right up to Alaska and meets jointly in Richmond).

I also sit on the UBCM and the AVICC Select Committee on BC Ferries, and on the Federal committee on Aquaculture.

So, as you can see, there is never a dull moment. I just returned from a two day meeting in Victoria sponsored by the UBCM for all of the Chairs and Administrators from all of the RD;s in the province. This was in my role as Chair of the Board.

During that same time I attended the press conference to announce the finalization for the purchase of the Merrill Ring lands to add to our parks at the north end of Quadra. So we now have a swath of protected park land right across the isthmus of Quadra joining three other park units into one. It was an honour to be there after more than 20 years of working on this process along with the dedicated volunteers that spent all of their time trying to bring this to fruition. A great deal of gratitude goes to the late Judy Leicester. Without her dedication this would not have happened. Congratulations to all of the other volunteers and to all of Quadra for your generosity.

I think I had better quit there. 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… or on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/JimAbram…. 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