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Protest planned for March 15 in Horseshoe Bay

"Doesn't Bowen care?" That was the opening question at an informal March 1 community meeting on ferry schedule cuts and fare increases.

"Doesn't Bowen care?"

That was the opening question at an informal March 1 community meeting on ferry schedule cuts and fare increases. After answering with a resounding "Yes!" we came up with a strategy, an action plan, and a name: Bowen Islanders for Ferry Fairness, aka BIFF.

We believe that Bowen must be part of the wave of coastal community protests planned for March 15 from noon to 1 p.m. in Gibsons, Sechelt, Madeira Park, Campbell River, Salt Spring Island, Gabriola Island, Quadra Island, Bella Coola, and the Village of Queen Charlotte (Haida Gwaii).

We want to rally because of the lack of strategic planning and fake consultation on ferry service. We want to rally to put pressure on our elected officials to fight harder and more effectively to protect our ferry service and all coastal communities, some of which are being genuinely devastated by these cuts. We want to rally because we care about our home.

The Bowen protest is intended to be peaceful and straightforward. On Saturday, March 15, we'll head down to Snug Cove and catch the 11:30 ferry as walk-on passengers. In Horseshoe Bay, we may meet up with supporters from the Mainland and possibly the Sunshine Coast. We'll walk over to MLA Jordan Sturdy's constituency office to say hello, if he's there. And we'll head back home on the 2:25.

This Sunday, March 9, from 10 to 2, the Legion is opening its doors for our sign-making session. We hope to see you there.

Some might argue that the schedule cuts don't affect Bowen that much. We believe that Bowen Island needs ferry schedules maintained to protect the livelihood of many of us. Families and individuals moved to the island with the understanding that the ferry would be dependable, consistent, and affordable. As a result of the planned schedule revisions, at least 35 people expect to lose employment, according to an on-board survey conducted in December by the BIM Economic Development Committee. And we believe these cuts and hikes are only the beginning.

This week in the BC legislature, Adrian Dix, Leader of the Opposition, asked Transportation Minister Todd Stone to freeze all service cuts for a year so that the government can do an actual business plan for the BC Ferries. Stone's response was essentially that he has to make "tough" decisions for the ferries to be sustainable.

But the decisions that the government is making seem far from fostering a sustainable service. The extraordinary fare increases and arbitrary service cuts, imposed with no clear rationale or analysis of impacts, will have obvious, predictable consequences: ferry use driven down even further; communities suffering and stagnant. Far from being on the road to sustainability, BC Ferries is being pushed by the provincial government into a death spiral from which only a significant policy change will ensure recovery.

Minister Stone needs to recognize that crippling the ferry service with fare hikes and service cuts is like tearing down the bridge to 36 percent of provincial tax revenue, 17 percent of tourist businesses, and 20 percent of B.C.'s population.

Bowen Islanders for Ferry Fairness supports the BC Ferry Coalition ( in its efforts to get the government to recognize the ferries are part of the provincial highway system, just as Premier W.A.C. Bennett intended when he established BC Ferries in the 1960s.

Please see our Facebook page

(BIFF: Bowen Islanders for Ferry Fairness), Bowen Island Forum postings, and website

( for updates.

Bowen Islanders for Ferry Fairness

Organizing Group: Iris and Bill Carr, Richard and Brandon Goth, Bill Granger, Melissa Harrison, Dee MacCarthy, Melanie Mason, Maureen Nicholson, and Andrew Pietrow.