Ferry CURE seeks answers

by Ed Sanders

(The Bowen Island Undercurrent, January 23rd 1998, p1: with permission)

A groundswell of support was evident on Saturday, January 17, when Ferry CURE (Coalition of Users to Re-establish Equity) invited Bowen Islanders to a Rockin' Rollback Ferry Dance at the Legion, “to celebrate our fare victory.” More than 130 enthusiastic Islanders turned up to listen and dance to the music of many Bowen performers and the headline band Crysalis, all of whom volunteered their time and talent to support the cause.

Admission was by donation to finance CURE's ongoing investigation into the Government's and BC Ferry Corporation's roles in the increase of the corporation's public debt to almost $700 million. An increase of nearly 5,000 per cent in the last six years.

In a letter to Brian Gardiner, Director of Ethics of the Institute of Chartered Accountants of British Columbia (ICABC), Bowen resident Elbert Paul, a chartered accountant and member of CURE, has requested that the Institute determine if there are grounds to investigate the audit of the B.C. Ferry Corporation's 1997 consolidated financial statements and the statements of its wholly-owned subsidiary, Catamaran Ferries International Inc. (CFI).

The B.C. Ferry Corporation is one of the largest systems in the world. In 1996/97, the coporation's fleet carried 22.3 million passengers and 8.2 million vehicles.

“It has been a source of pride to British Columbians, it is now becoming a source of concern,” said Paul.

The B.C. Ferry Corporation derives authority from Parliament to set ferry rates which are limited to: “the costs of operating and maintaining ferries, terminals, and (the Corporation's) other properties and assets and the amount required annually to meet depreciation and interest charges.”

The recent rate increases are [in]consistent with the ten-year Capital plan presented to the provincial legislature in June, 1995 by Glen Clark, then the minister responsible for the Ferry Corporation. Hansard records Clark stating that there will be “fare increases every year (1996 to 2016) that are two per cent above inflation ... it's all been budgeted for.” This statement is wildly inconsistent with the 30 to 40 per cent increases that were recently imposed and partially rolled back.

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