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Meetings with BC Ferries don’t equal consultation

On January 21st, chairs of Ferry Advisory Committees from coastal and island communities will meet with management from BC Ferries.

On January 21st, chairs of Ferry Advisory Committees from coastal and island communities will meet with management from BC Ferries. Bowen Island Municipal Councillor and liaison to the Bowen Island Municipality Transportation Advisory Committee (BIMTAC), Alison Morse, is hoping that the news coming out of those meetings will mean the proposed cuts to ferry service will not be as bad as they appeared when they were first made public. However, at this week's council meeting Mayor Jack Adelaar suggested that representatives from Bowen should "send a message" to BC Ferries by not attending the meeting at all.

"They've called a meeting, they call it a consultation with the Ferries Advisory Committees, but nothing happens," Adelaar told council. "It's them saying something to us. When we say something to them it seems to fall into a circular basket. And I have a real problem with, when we get responses from them, it always comes from a PR person. I'm not interested in a PR person and getting advertisements on my iPad saying, 'Come on a wonderful BC Ferries vacation' while they're cutting sailings."

Adelaar said that by not attending the upcoming meeting, it would send a message to BC Ferries that it doesn't matter what they have to say, because the decisions aren't made by them anyways.

"I'm trying to be subtle in the way I deal with this problem," Adelaar told council. "I really have no faith in BC Ferries, and I have no faith in [Transportation] Minister Stone. We're going nowhere, and we're going nowhere very quickly so, the usefulness of a consultation? I don't know."

Councillor Morse objected to the Mayor's suggestion on the grounds that attending the meeting means getting information first hand, and the chance to communicate Bowen's message about the ferry cuts.

Councillor Wolfgang Duntz agreed that it would be better to attend the meeting.

"At least they cannot say you didn't attend," said Duntz. "But yes, we are wasting our time talking to BC Ferries, they are contracted by the government so any talk that would lead to anything would have to be between us and the government. How are we supposed to change their position, they just got elected and Christie Clark won't change her mind because there are no liberal ridings along the coast."

Mayor Adelaar said the four north shore ridings are taken for granted by the provincial liberals, and by getting the Metro Vancouver mayor's on-side we can get the attention of the provincial government.

"When we have 2 million people behind us," said Adelaar, "the premier will start paying attention."

Adelaar did agree with Duntz, that the struggles of coastal communities are not the priority for the BC Government.

"We are a sideshow to Clark's main agenda, LNG and balancing the budget."