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General · 7th March 2015
Jim Abram
BC Ferries petition to put it back in the Ministry of Transportation
What a crazy three days. Weeks of making media calls to line this up and setting it up with the Independent MLA and her staff, writing the script, along with the logistics of getting everyone there became quite the feat! But we did it! The details are far too great to try and tell you everything, but basically we all met up on Tuesday morning, the 24th, went to the Legislature and met with Vicki Huntington, Independent MLA for Delta South, and her staff. We went to the Public Gallery and took our seats and waited for the big moment! Vicki made the introductions of all of us and read her statement and later introduced the actual 633 pages of 20,000 signatures to the Minister. We were then subjected to a half hour of school yard behaviour by many of the MLA's as they hooted and hollered at each other over various topics of the day. How any business gets done is totally beyond me. No one keeps order. It is a total free-for-all. We then left and went to Vicki's office where we were met by EVERY TV reporter in BC along with some of the radio people. We had an incredible media "scrum" and had ample opportunity to tell them why we were there and what it all meant to the people of BC. Laural Eacott of Powell River was great in showing off the petition and explaining how she started it and how she managed to bring it to an end by presenting it at the Legislature. She asked me to help accomplish this and it felt great to help be able to do that. The media interviews went on all day and evening. Laural even took one call that I referred to her from the Globe and Mail while driving home. I went off to the CFAX studio where the petition was then totally advertised and then reopened. In less than 12 hours after that more than 3,300 more signatures were gathered. I then went on to do two studio interviews with CBC covering the entire province between the two of them, including Christy's and Todd's home towns! If you are interested in signing the petition, it is still possible if you go to: https://www.change.org/p/return-bc-ferries-to-thebc-department-of-transportation-and-highways
All in all it was an amazing success, even though our Minister is such a puppet. He suggested he "has a plan".. I called him out on TV and said, “Lay it on the table".. of course he can't because there is no plan.

The Coastal Regional District Chairs Group (of which I am one) meet with him on March 5th in Victoria... one more trip! We'll see what comes of that meeting. He will be dealing with 13 hard-cores and we are not easily fooled by empty rhetoric. (see below) So stay tuned and please read the following columns by one of BC’s premier writers, Stephen Hume: http://www.vancouversun.com/opinion/columnists/Stephen+Hume+Constitutional+argument+ferry+funding/10853164/story.html

http://www.vancouversun.com/opinion/columnists/Stephen+Hume+tale+coasts/10849242/story.html

These are reports on the Federal discrepancy between East and West Coasts. I met with the Federal BC Conservative Caucus over this and wrote about it in a previous report.

You should also read Rob Shaw’s piece in the Vancouver Sun and Times Colonist at:
http://www.timescolonist.com/news/local/petition-calls-on-government-to-take-back-b-c-ferries-1.1772256

And then after we presented the petition this is what Rob wrote: http://www.vancouversun.com/news/metro/Petition+calling+government+take+back+Ferries+brushed+aside/10839939/story.html

So what is next??? Good question!!!
Glad you asked! There is a movement forming to stage a Province-wide day of action in communities all over the province to “Take Back BC”. The focus will be on all of the problems we are being subjected to (e.g. Health Care increases, ICBC increases, Hydro Increases, schools, seniors, etc.) and with Ferries right out in front. The date of this event will be Saturday March 28th which is only days before our next 3.9% increase in our fares. April 1st is a Wed. and it was decided that since so many people were disappointed about not being able to go to the protest last year in Victoria because they had to work it was decided to be held on a Saturday.

By holding the protests in each community it avoids the travel time and expense and all of the organization that goes along with it. We will need volunteers to put together a sign painting workshop to air all of your pet peeves with the government, tie it all to Ferry issues, and make sure that the next government understands the importance of listening to the people. This is our province! Government is meant to serve the needs of the people, not the other way around.

I am working with an incredible committee of people from around the province to make this happen. To view or join the page, go to: https://www.facebook.com/groups/Takingitbackmybc/

So, what else is happening besides ferries?
The SRD Budgeting process is underway and actually nearing completion. We started it in September and have had it on every agenda since then (twice per month). As we are usually told, our requisition is down (you should pay less taxes) but by the time we have all of the things like Provincial taxes, Fire Protection and numerous other things added in, it usually doesn’t quite work out that way. Our assessments did go down (no doubt ferries played a hand in that) but the SRD still has to collect a set amount of money to run the services that we want. So they spread that amount over the assessed value and voila! You tax bill is determined. If anyone has taxes that go down this year, could you please let me know? I am really interested in finding out if the figures we see actually translate into lower taxes.
Also, keep in mind waterfront, commercial and industrial are exceptions to the general rule…

UBCM
After our monthly Committee and Board meetings on Wednesday, Feb. 11th I then flew to Vancouver to attend my first UBCM Executive meeting on Thursday, Feb. 12th and I am on the Environment and the Resolutions Committees. The Environment Committee dealt quite a bit with Emergency Preparedness and spill response and we also talked a lot about Derelict Vessels, which is a hot topic on the entire coast with both the Fed’s and the Province washing their hands of the matter even though it is totally within their mandate. So that dumps it onto local government and we are currently strategizing on how to deal with getting the senior levels to accept their responsibility. I had to fly back to CR that night to attend our Strategic Planning and Budget session on the 13th. Crazy, eh?

Coastal Ferry Chairs Group
A meeting was set up with the Ferry Commissioner on Feb. 16th in Victoria to present him with our submission on Performance Term #4 prior to the deadline. We had quite a long meeting and explained all of the usual which I am afraid rolled off of him like water on a duck’s back. He has no power except to recommend to Govt. what to set our price caps at and to give approvals for capital projects over $30 million and to provide some oversight of BC Ferries structure. Other than that he is totally powerless. He told us that if the government didn’t raise the “subsidy” (I hate that word!), then his only tool is to recommend raising the fares. How would that be folks??? You might want to consider that Day of Action on March 28th!

Meeting with Minister Stone
The Costal RD Chairs Group will be meeting with Minister Stone on March 5th in Victoria as this report goes to press. He invited us to meet by him! So we don’t really have any idea what he wants of us but we told him we want the Premier in the room (good news or bad). I wouldn’t miss the meeting for anything. Maybe he will want to “show us his plan”. I know he doesn’t have one.. So our meeting should be interesting! Details to follow in my next report of maybe in the media that day / evening news?

Ok.. That has got to be it.. we’ll talk about Telus next time along with some other issues… So, 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…. If it is important, my cell is 250-830-8005… 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