By Roy L Hales
If the posts in the Tideline are an indication, the October 25 Quadra-Cortes Ferry Advisory Commission (FAC) meeting dealt with a potentially explosive situation. Our Regional Director, Chief Kevin Peacey and former FAC President Paul Ryan were among those who published their views. When the meeting was finally convened in Gorge Hall, one of the BC ferry executives stated the previous meeting (June 7, 2019) had gone off the rails. Committee members subsequently exchanged something like 130 emails. A significant portion of the October 25 meeting was devoted to discussing ways of returning the Quadra-Cortes FAC to normality.
Covering the Quadra-Cortes FAC Meeting
My coverage of the meeting was hindered by the fact I sat across the room from most of the speakers. Though I made a recording of what was said, it is filled with the sounds of chairs scraping across the floor, papers shuffling and people coughing. As a result, most of this radio program will consist of reading from my notes. There are two exceptions. Bill Dougan read out his presentation on the Cortes commercial request for assured loading. I also using a two-minute-long audio clip from Steve Brown’s presentation on the Klahoose priority loading request.
Klahoose Request For Priority Loading
Some band members are currently need to stay overnight in motels, in Campbell River, to ensure they can make it to medical appointments on time. Consequently, the Klahoose purchased a passenger vehicle for the trek to Campbell River and back. After consulting with their membership, the band asked BC Ferries to give them preferred loading during the same time slot that the Cortes Connection once used, on Tuesdays and Fridays.
As many of you are probably aware, they are asking for a great deal less than what BC Ferries gave the Cortes Connection.
The June 7 FAC Meeting
Much of the uproar at the June 7 Quadra-Cortes FAC meeting is connected to the Klahoose application. According to Paul Ryan, whose term as President ended at this meeting, their delegate did not follow the correct procedure.
“Steven [Brown] is a brand new member of the committee. He was asked to provide items to be placed on the agenda well ahead of the meeting. He did not do that but chose instead, to present his proposal at the meeting. I explained to him the process for requests of this sort; the proposal is discussed in committee and a vote is taken. If it passes, the proposal is put to the communities. If a majority is in favour, the committee recommends to BCF that the proposal be accepted. Steven seemed to think he could get immediate approval. It doesn’t work that way!”
In the podcast above, you will hear Steve Brown give a very different version of these events.
“We actually put in our request in back in April. For some reason, we do not know why, it did not make it across anyone’s desk. It didn’t make it to the FAC. The second request was when I raised it at the FAC and the email chain ensued afterward. The third request was put in during July and we had approval from [BC Ferry] operations … Then the email chain began again … At one point Mr (Kent?) said ‘Yes, you [will] have priority loading in the next couple of weeks.’ That offer was then retracted, to our frustration …”
Why The Klahoose Want Priority Loading
“This request is for two days a week, so that people can get off the island to make their health care appointments. What we currently have to do for our members is send them over the day before. They get to Campbell River at whatever time, we don’t know when. They have to get a hotel and the next morning go to their appointment. It is incredibly expensive and not realistic.”
“Another issue is that , for a lot of our elders … they need someone to take them to that appointment. They need support … Not everyone has a vehicle. It’s not accessible and there is no alternative across Quadra right now.”
The new FAC President, Michael Lynch, asked what about everyone else who is trying to get to their doctors appointments?
To which another Quadra committee member, Judy ____, replied that she discussed this matter with her immediate community “and there doesn’t seem to be a lot of issue around it. The proposal is for one vehicle, which is going for all the right reasons.” Priority is already being given to fish vehicles, produce and medical issues. “Why is the Klahoose proposal being treated differently?”
The discussion concluded on a positive note. One of the ferry executives said while it is easy it grant the Klahoose request now, there may be problems when traffic increases in the summer. This will be discussed further at an upcoming BC Ferries ops meeting, which the Klahoose have asked to attend.
Healing Divisions Within The Quadra-Cortes FAC
A significant part of the FAC meeting was devoted to how the Quadra-Cortes FAC could heal some of the divisions caused by recent events and move forward.
As was stated earlier, Michael Lynch was elected President.
Some suggested that Jim Abram has served long beyond the two term limitation mentioned in the BCF terms of reference. To which both Mr Lynch and Cortes member Uschi Koebberling responded that he was serving as a Regional Director, not a volunteer committee member. There has always been a place for the Regional Directors on the FAC.
While the idea of a co-chair from Cortes was raised, neither of the two most senior Cortes members were willing to fill this position. Also, Mr Lynch made it clear that, while it was not opposed to the principle, he is not willing to share the leadership role. If the FAC wanted co-chairs, they should find someone else for his job.
Cortes member Kate Maddigan submitted a proposed code of conduct for board members. Mr Lynch praised her research, adding that he did not think was necessary if they could get through a meeting in an orderly fashion.
(This post is part of the Cortes Currents broadcast for Oct 30, 2019. Click here to access part two of the Oct 2019 FAC meeting: Cortes commercial request for assured loading)
Top image credit: BC Ferry dock in Whaletown, Cortes Island – Roy L Hales photo