November 12, 2000: After three years as a high-profile and highly effective grassroots organization based on Bowen Island, B.C., Ferry CURE is ceasing operations and passing the torch to the island municipality's new council, the coalition's directors announced today. Ferry CURE the Coalition of Users to Re-establish Equity was launched in November 1997 after the provincial cabinet ignored the BC Ferries stakeholder consultation process and unilaterally imposed dramatic, system-wide increases in ferry fares of 24% to 33% for Bowen commuters.Four days later, on the initiative of Richard Goth, Don MacLean and Samantha Gruft, Bowen Islanders protested fares and successfully tied up Horseshoe Bay. On November 26, they organized the first island meeting to mount a campaign against the unreasonable rate hikes. In early December, island chartered accountant Bert Paul increased the pressure by formally requesting that the Provincial Auditor General do a Value-for-Money Audit of BC Ferries. The rest is provincial history, which was widely reported in the media. “Now that we have the province's first island municipal council, it's time to let our very able councillors and members of their ferry task force assume the responsibility for monitoring BC Ferries,” says Paul, a Ferry CURE director. Another director, Grant Chitty, will continue to serve on the task force as an informed and vocal community representative. Goth, the coalition's president, points out: “We've won on all the major issues. That includes the audit that was finally done, the review of tariffs and subsidies that led to a reversal of the fare increase, and the environmental assessment that pressured the government to slow down the so-called fast ferries. And we were among the major critics of those vessels which the NDP government has since admitted are ineffectual, ludicrously expensive white elephants.” Among other victories in which community-based Ferry CURE played a key role:
Bert Paul cautions that “on an ongoing basis, we need to be vigilant over the proposed replacement vessel which some believe may be inadequate. And as well there must be continued scrutiny over the impact of any inappropriate tariff increases.”The directors of Ferry CURE wish to express their gratitude to the Bowen community, the people who were actively involved in the organization and those who gave their financial and moral support.
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