Friday April 18, 2014

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Stand united in this ferry fight

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Mothers, daughters, fathers, sons, grandparents, politicians, and everyday citizens were out in force last Saturday to rally against the proposed service cuts planned by
BC Ferries.

The protest signs were unique, and the message was clear ó the current ferry system is not working and the government has to reverse its course and come up with a solution that is sustainable and affordable.

More than 2,000 people came out to seven rally points between Langdale and Earls Cove as well as Gabriola Island and Powell River. It was a fantastic turnout and shows that this issue is touching us all, no matter what our political affiliation.

The protest is bringing together business people, community groups, local sports organizations, governments and seniors who are united to see change, united to see a service that meets our needs and is fair and equitable.

Our Route 3, Langdale to Horseshoe Bay,
will lose 40 round-trip sailings under the current service reduction plan announced in November by Transportation Minister Todd Stone. Itís significant for our community. It will hurt shift workers, sports teams and have major impacts on our economy.

The Sunshine Coast is trying to position itself through other ventures as a tourism destination. Well how can we do that with unrealistic fare hikes and loss of service? The high fares make it very cost-prohibitive for people to travel here, for families to travel back and forth ó and itís even worse for other routes.

Gabriola Island will lose 834 round trips,
Powell River 365.

The ferries are our highway, our means of getting to and from the Lower Mainland, the means of transportation for our goods and services.

And the argument by some that we chose to live here just doesnít cut it any more. We should all pay for highway and road improvements. We donít live in Squamish or Whistler, yet all B.C. taxpayers paid for the Sea to Sky Highway upgrades in advance of the 2010 Winter Olympics.

The same is true of inland ferries, a free service paid by all of us. Everyone, at some point, has utilized the coastal ferry system ó not just those who chose to live here ó so we should all share in the cost.

Weíre encouraged by the strong show of support so far, but this is a fight that is long from over. Others in the province are also jumping on board. We must all stand united in this fight.
And those who deem fit to not join in, thatís fine, just get out of the way or risk being run over. Enough is enough.

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