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General News · 7th April 2014
Uschi Koebberling
On 31 March 2014 BC Ferries announced new schedules for a number of minor and northern routes, becoming effective Monday, 28 April 2014. The revised schedule was published on Tidelines and at BC Ferries. An identical draft version was published in the Cortes Marketer 28 March. Ferry Advisory Committee (FAC) Chair Paul Ryan also published this schedule on Tidelines 26 March and indicated in his note that there would be community meetings to get public input. A meeting is scheduled for Quadra 9 April 7 pm at the Quadra Community Centre. Rather than now, three Cortes FAC members consider it more useful to have a meeting a while after the new schedule is implemented to see how well or poorly it works, and to see what to do about it. The other two Cortes members from the FAC have not yet expressed their opinion. The FAC Chair would prefer a meeting now.

How we got here: 5 February 2014: BC Ministry of Transportation announces to proceed with announced service cuts to minor and northern routes, despite the clear messages from the affected communities about the negative, if not devastating, effects this would have for their communities. BC Ferries developed alternative options to those suggested by the Province. For route 23 Campbell River – Quadra, this would mean either elimination of the evening runs or cuts on mid day runs (around shift change) to achieve target reductions. No reductions were suggested for Quadra- Cortes (Route 24). BC Ferries were told by Ministry officials that 9 service cuts per week had to be made to meet their mandate from the provincial government for Route 23 to achieve estimated savings of $185,000. Other efficiency measures were accounted for elsewhere, such as the elimination of the night watch– see Jim Abram’s report on page 14 in the Discovery Islander 4 April 2014. The options for cuts as suggested were not workable.

14 March 1014: a new schedule was put together at a meeting involving BCFC, FAC and invited members of the 2 islands, resulting in a schedule that will be implemented 28 April. The FAC is, as the name indicates, an advisory, not a decision-making body of community representatives. Several FAC members indicated at the meeting, that they were attending under great duress, and were focused on continuing their fight to recognize our ferries as part of the provincial highways, reverse the service cut backs and roll back the fare hikes. Most outspoken is Regional Director Jim Abram. As he indicated in an e-mail to me: “there IS progress being made; … we are getting about 4 to 6 media pieces every day of the week , we have gotten the majority of the interior of BC to support our cause to put us back in highways.” And he expects that Cortes should also step forward in support of this fight.

Where to go from here? Should there be a meeting on Cortes led by the FAC Chair to get public input on the new schedule and other changes? Should this be a meeting to discuss how people from Cortes who are interested in joining the fight could best do this (see pages 4 and 14 of the latest Discovery Islander)? In that case that would not be a FAC facilitated meeting, as challenging the Ministry of Transportation is not FACs mandate.

Uschi Koebberling
FAC member Uschi.koebberlinggmail.com
Other Cortes members: Bertha Jeffrey: cmarkettwincomm.ca; Noba Anderson: directorcortesisland.com; , Rod Lee: rod_leeshaw.ca; Bob Tracy: schoonisland.net;
FAC Chair Paul Ryan (pryanisland.net).
Tonight
Comment by Ester Strijbos on 9th April 2014
On Quadra they have a meeting tonight where the Quadra director and FAC bring the schedule changes/suggestions back to the Quadra community for ratification and/or alteration. They hope to get BCFS to fix any problems they find from community input.

Who knows if any other schedule changes that impact Cortes will be brought forward tonight.

Yes we should have a meeting: as soon as we know the results from tonights meeting on Quadra and before the FAC and Jim Abram take the newest schedule that includes Quadra community input to BCFS.