Ferry activist unimpressed by mediator's appointment

by Tom Zillich

(The Bowen Island Undercurrent, December 19th 1997, p1: with permission)

The government is attempting to listen-at least in the latest dispute over ferry fare hikes.

A mediator has been appointed to work with the Gulf islands ferry commutors to get the BC Ferry Corporation's consultation process back on track.

The move hardly impresses those on Bowen Island who've fought to have the fare hikes rolled back.

"I can't believe they think we're that stupid to accept this," said Richard Goth, organizer of the island's Ferry Fares Strategy Committee.

"The response by the ferry-using community would be that this is an unacceptable response (by the government)." Goth expects very few people to attend meetings on the issue with Saturna Island resident John Fryer, who's been asked to "explore options for mitigating the impact of recent tariff increases for daily commutors on minor ferry routes," according to a press statement.

Employment and Investment Minister Dan Miller made the announcement Wednesday.

One-way fare increases of $1 and 50 cents for passengers on smaller routes were announced Nov.14

"I can understand the frustration expressed by menbers of the Gulf Islands stakeholders advisory committee," stated Miller."Unfortunately these increases were necessary to offset increasing operaytional costs."

Goth says the government has to do the right thing-restore the highways subsidies as it had for the past 30 years or more.

"They don't seem to be in touch with the fact that people have to be using this service, and that we are not the rich fat-cats they think live on these islands."

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