General · 16th April 2015
The last three days have been incredible! We had the Association of Vancouver Island and Coastal Communities Annual General Meeting in Courtenay Friday, Saturday and Sunday. This is the regional group of the Union Of BC Municipalities and there are a total of five regions.
I decided about a month ago that this venue would be a good one for a bit different type of rally (protest) and started working on it with a number of people on the coast and mainly on Quadra Island (as usual! You are great!). it was very difficult to get up the interest from areas like the Sunshine Coast considering the cost of the ferry. Some from other islands and along the big island did come out. But the major source of energy came from right here at home!
I had incredible help from Pat and Rex Lowes in helping to arrange most things and Patti George took care of the sign painting workshop at the Community Centre and of course entertainment was provided in good ol’ protest style by Smokey, with crowd sing-alongs. It was wonderful. I want to thank all of the die-hard supporters who made the effort to come out in support. You were wonderful.The set up and the rally and the takedown took place in freezing cold temperatures, with sideways rain and 30 knot winds. But the show went on! And the Delegates were impressed. I lined up a number of high-profile speakers to keep the crowd cheering and to make commitments on the part of local government. There is no slacking off on the resolve of local government to keep this issue alive. The President of the UBCM spoke on Sunday morning and a good portion of his speech was to reaffirm the UBCM position of solving the BCFS situation for our province. That was so good to hear, since they represent ALL local governments, not just the coast.
We had a long session on Friday to update the delegates on where we are at with the province.. all the meetings that have taken place, the intransigence, etc. The delegates are still with us, 100%.
John Horgan, Leader of the Opposition, spoke on Sunday morning and a large part of his speech was about ferries. He had been well briefed on our position and concerns. He did say that, if elected, they would rip up the Coastal Ferry Act. I was the first speaker to the mic (they only allowed two) and I hit him with our burning question about putting BCFS back into the Ministry of Transportation. This is what he said as recorded by one of his MLA's: "He was asked by Jim Abram, will we bring ferries into the Ministry of Transportation. John pointed out that it may be better to restore BC Ferries to a Crown Corporation. It may be better to bring it into the Ministry of Transportation. John said the answer is "Yes and Yes". He said that over the next two years, leading up to the provincial election in 2017, we will work with local governments and stakeholders to determine which "Yes" we support.” Personally I do not believe this is good enough. BCFS was a Crown Corp during the entire ten years that the NDP was in power in the 90’s. That is when we had the most problems and why the Liberal government kicked it out into a faux-private corporation in 2002/3. And you now what we have now. Problems!
So, I would have much rather had a single “yes”, about going into the Ministry. We still have our work cut out for us. Our battle continues and will do so until we win. So, hang in there folks. Stay tuned!
I will be away for a bit trying to recharge before my batteries are totally un-chargeble. Dan MacKenzie will be filling in at meetings and if you ned to talk to our staff,don’t hesitate to call them.. for administrative matters, call Russ at 250-830-6703, and for planning call Ralda at 250-830-6709 or the switchboard at 250-830-6700. I will not have access to phone or email while away so hold your questions until I return.
Director, Discovery Islands-Mainland Inlets, Area C, SRD