CURE group leads community celebration

by Jacqueline Massey

(The Bowen Island Undercurrent, January 29 1999, p1: with permission)

The Queen of Capilano is here to stay, at least for the next seven months. That's the good news received late last week by the community.

Thanks largely to the efforts and actions of Ferry CURE, the coalition of users to reestablish equity, the Board of Directors of the BC Ferry Corporation directed management to refrain from making any immediate decisions about service on Route 8, the Horseshoe Bay/Snug Cove run. In a letter to Bert Paul, a director of Ferry CURE, Curtis Eaton, the chair of BC Ferries wrote that the corporation "will not be in a position to consider changes to this route until the fall of 1999."

Discussions between Astrolabe Marine Transportation and BC Ferries concerning a foot passenger pilot project have also been terminated. Furthermore, if it is ever deemed appropriate that a such a service be engaged, the ferry corporation will have to initiate a public call for proposals.

The recent announcements came as a victory to the community, swiftly mobilized into action by Ferry CURE and the threat of having the Queen of Capilano withdrawn from service and replaced by a smaller and unsuitable vessel. Stakeholders and members of the advisory transportation committee, including locally elected officials, expressed their distress over being betrayed by management who were planning to implement an unfair and intolerable proposal.

Within days, more than 1,300 people signed a petition protesting the proposed changes to ferry service. Outraged residents sent innumerable letters and faxes to politicians and participated in at least one demonstration.

Tuesday night, approximately 150 people came to the community school to celebrate their successes and hear how they can continue to ensure that BC Ferries does not disregard Bowen Islanders again. Paul, who lead the meeting along with other directors of Ferry CURE, said there is still a need for sustained involvement from the public. He outlined a number of initiatives already underway and others soon to be launched.

One of the latest developments is the creation of a new Ferry Task Force appointed by the Islands Trust and the GVRD. The sub-committee of the advisory transportation committee will enter into renewed consultation with BC Ferries and explore options to save the Queen of Capilano or secure an equal or better ferry service for the island.

The decision to form a group committed to hammering out the best deal for Bowen was made by residents who attended a meeting with management and other staff of BC Ferries last Saturday. They included two members of the Bowen Island Advisory Transportation Committee, two representatives of Ferry CURE, Island Trustees, the GVRD director, and two "neutral" Islanders. In a communiqué they issued earlier this week, they wrote that for a consultation process "to be seen as legitimate in light of the failures of the past, it must give Island residents a meaningful 'hands-on' role in the generation and evaluation of options -- all options -- for changes that may affect our ferry service."

Members of the Ferry Task Force will initially include Luz Budzinski, Doug Sinkenson, Grant Chitty, Iain Benson and Jeff Scouten. Their first task will be to design terms of reference and a process model to govern consultations with BC Ferries. Assurance has been given that these terms of reference will be signed off by the Board of Directors of BC Ferries.

Following completion of this first step, expected by the end of February, a public meeting will be organized at which island residents will be given "a full opportunity to participate in the decisions involved in reinstating the consultation process.

Now is the time for Bowen Islanders to put their differences aside and to unite together behind an effort that will give us the meaningful input we deserve into changes that affect our ferry service," concludes the communiqué.

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