Ferry switch provokes bitterness, resignation

by Jacqueline Massey

(The Bowen Island Undercurrent. January 15 1999, p1: with permission)
Another chair of the Bowen Island Advisory Transportation Committee has resigned due to a loss of faith in the public consultation process between the British Columbia Ferry Corporation and its stakeholders. Adam Holbrook penned his letter of resignation three days after a meeting with Glen Brown, an executive vice president of the British Columbia Ferry Corporation.

Brown met with the BIATC on Thursday night of last week to discuss proposed changes to ferry service and answer questions about the planned redeployment of the Queen of Capilano. Brown's responses and comments convinced Holbrook that it was futile to continue to hope or expect that BC Ferries would listen to the people of Bowen.

In his letter, Holbrook stated that: "Residents of Bowen Island and its stakeholder committee have been systematically and deliberately misled." He said that he could not continue to chair a process that had been "rendered useless by the recent actions of BCF." Holbrook stepped in just over one year ago to replace the BIATC's former chair, Louise McIntosh, who also quit in disgust over decisions that flagrantly disregarded the input of users of the ferry service.

Richard Littlemore, the local director of the Greater Vancouver Regional District, who along with Island Trustees appointed members of the BIATC, says Holbrook's vacancy will be hard to fill. "Nobody wants to step into the breach," said Littlemore.

He has written a letter to Brown expressing how dismayed he is that Brown has destroyed his credibility with "two very reasonable people," referring to Holbrook and McIntosh. While Littlemore says he shares the present sense of despair and failure felt by those who have volunteered considerable time, energy and effort to deal with ferry and other transportation issues, he says it is important that a committee remain in place to continue to work on Bowen's behalf.

"We have to be there in the fight; if not, we're completely lost."

The Ferry CURE Society, the coalition of users to reestablish equity in ferry rates and practices, has moved swiftly into action to contest proposed initiatives of the ferry corporation. They have filed a formal complaint with Dulcie McCallum, the ombudsman for the province of British Columbia.

Members of CURE are requesting an investigation of BC Ferries' move towards the implementation of a proposal which would remove the Queen of Capilano from the Bowen Island/Horseshoe Bay run. They have accused the ferry corporation of being "unreasonable, arbitrary and in contravention of the terms of reference of the stakeholders liaison committee."

On another front, CURE has arranged a meeting aimed at drawing together members of the Bowen community who have become alarmed about the proposed changes to ferry service. The gathering, which was set to take place at the Legion hall last night, will be a chance for people to air their concerns and get directly involved in the renewed protest against BC Ferries.

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