Ferry cost acts as a deterrent for visitors
SUSANNE MARTINE D I T O R
As an island community, Bowen is dependent on the ferry, says Adam Holbrook, chair of the Bowen Island Municipal Transportation Advisory Committee, who presented his views about trans-portation issues to council last month.
We are an island community that is defined by that particular transportation system, he said. For instance when you look at the difference between Bowen and Gambier, you could imagine that Gambier is what Bowen would be without the ferry system.
One of the issues Holbrook spoke about is Bowen Islands dependence on one vessel.
The Queen of Capilano has to sail on the hour. If it breaks down, there is no replacement vessel, he said. Its a fact that we have to rely on that ves-sel not only for the transport of people but also for supplies and food.
The Horseshoe Bay to Snug Cove route is also a commuter run. That impacts the way the ferry is utilized, says Holbrook, adding that there is little seasonal variation, unlike on most other minor routes. Utilization rates vary over the course of a day and a couple of runs approach the capac-ity level for carrying foot passengers, especially at the time of day when the islands circa 200 high school students commute.
We have many people who live on Bowen and work in town, Holbrook said. That leads to the ferry being overloaded in one direction in the
morning and in the other direction in the after-noon. The overloads throttle access to the island and inhibit economic growth and social diversity, says Holbrook, adding that due to the high annual utilization rate the consequent provincial contri-bution on a per-vehicle basis is the lowest of the minor routes.
Holbrook said that the Ministry of Transportation ran a series of ferry consultations with the aim to find and implement saving to bal-ance the budget.
Im afraid that I dont see the consultation as a success, he said, adding that the outcome can potentially have a huge impact on Bowen Island.
If you look at the statistics, the numbers for passengers as well as vehicles have gone down, Holbrook explained.
The number of passengers has decreased by 1.2 per cent and the number of vehicles by 4 per cent compared to 2011/12. Although the average annual vehicle utilization rate by vehicle count comes to 51.6 per cent, Holbrook says that given that trucks and larger vehicles take up more deck space, the actual utilization based on automobile equivalents was closer to 58 per cent.
The lowest month for overloads was February where 37 out of 857 cars were overloaded (4.3 per cent). The highest was October with 186 out of 949 cars overloaded (19.6 per cent).
Experience cards are used for 86 per cent of travel.
Why would you pay so much for a family outing if you can get to Whistler or Pemberton for the price of gas?
Bowfest is backSee our special four-page pullout for info about the annual event.
Scouts and boatsBowen Scouts have been busy building Puddle Duck Racer.
BC Ferries execs get bonusesAnother year of full steam ahead for incentive bonuses.
FRIDAY AUGUST 23 2013
V O L . 4 0 , N O . 1 3
Watch for more online at: WWW.BOWENISLANDUNDERCURRENT.COM
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The kids at the Bowen Island Community Daycare have been busy making decorations to wear in the annual Bowfest parade. Debra Stringfellow photo
continued, PAGE 2
Bowen Island Pub www.bowenislandpub.com 604-947-BPUB (2782)
Bowens favourite party band Ginger 66Saturday, Aug 24
Band starts at 9:30pm and cover charge is $10
DEBRA STRINGFELLOWc o n t R i B u t o R
Keep a sharp lookout this year at Bowfest as the Bowen Scouts prepare to launch their biggest project yet! These kids have been busy building Puddle Duck
Racer sailboats and will proudly set afloat two hand-crafted wooden boats at the beach in Crippen Park on Saturday, Aug 24th.
It started back in February when the scouts took on this monumental challenge of building a workable sailboat with the help of many volunteers. Labeled the easiest boat in the world to build (see pdracer.com for details), it took the scouts six months to complete two racers.
They first started off by making scale models of the boat, this introduced them to some of the tools and methods involved in the engineering of such a vessel. They learned how to read a basic plan, mea-sure accurately and use cutting tools.
They used squares, straight edges and utility knives (and not a small amount of tape!), they man-aged to make some nice little quarter-scale models helping them to understand how the bigger wood-pieces of a real 8 foot long boat would fit together, explains Jud BerryM volunteer scout leader.
The kids are excited and extremely proud of their
accomplishments but they could not have done it without the help of some great volunteers and our community.
The Bowen Scouts would like to send out a big thank you to the Bowen Building Centre (IRLY) for supporting their project. IRLY has a history of facili-tating community initiatives and the scouts were delighted to receive their generous donation of build-ing materials. They would also like to thank Florrie and Doug Levine for donating a much needed sail and to Chris Barnett for contributing paint and a hatch.
Scouts Canada caters to both boys and girls and have been around for more than 100 years. According to the organization, it currently has a membership of 17 million Canadian youths nation-wide. Scouts use to be offered on island but a lack of interest soon dissolved the group. Three years ago Leslie and Steven Blais along with Jud Berry decided to start the scouting groups back up again, since there were few activities for boys aged 5-7 that didnt revolve around sports. For girls there was the Sparks, Brownies, and Guide groups, however they do not include boys. Scouting involves both boys and girls. states Leslie.
With the help of volunteer leaders Jud Berry, Dave Jones, Michael Kerr and Frank Olsen the Scouts are back up in numbers, we currently have a Cub Scout (age 8-10) and a Scout group (age 11-14) with 15 reg-istered youth to date, six leaders and a small group of volunteer parents and relatives to assist with the organization of the group. We currently do not have a Beaver group due to a lack of leadership (volunteers welcome), however there is a waiting list of approxi-mately 8 kids who are interested in joining. says Leslie
Registration is still open with spaces in both groups. For more information on the Bowen branch go to http://bowenscouts.wordpress.com.
BC Ferries has been raising its fares, Holbrook said, adding that rather than increasing the viability of the ferry service, this has led to an economic tipping point and placed stress on ferry-dependent communi-ties.
The ferry cost actively acts as a deterrent for visitors, says Holbrook.
It costs $65 for a car with two adults and two children. Why would you pay so much for a family out-ing if you can get to Whistler or Pemberton for the price of gas?
Another issue the advisory com-mittee is trying to address is the upcoming midlife refit of the Bowen ferry.
The Queen of Capilano is 25, 26 years old and is approaching the mid life refit in January 2015, Holbrook said. He explained that according to BC Ferries, there are only three other vessels in the fleet with a capac-ity comparable to or larger than the Queen of Capilano that will fit into Snug Cove and they are in regular use on other routes.
What BC Ferries has done in the past is that its provided a smaller
replacement vessel, the Bowen Queen. Last year, the resulting over-loads and delays caused major eco-nomic hardship for Bowen residents, Holbrook said. The committee has asked BC Ferries to share its plans in advance and sees a replacement with a vessel of this capacity for at least five months as not acceptable.
This specific issue is symptomatic of a much greater concern and that is that BC Ferries can unilaterally throttle this place, Holbrook said. He believes that more affordable ferry services are called for to provide access to jobs and schooling, as well as health care services. And the fer-ries need to link up with bus services.
We are looking for a seamless system to downtown but the prob-lem is that the ferry is irregular. There are rules about which ferry goes into what berth in Horseshoe Bay. For a trip downtown on pub-lic transportation, you need a lot of time, he said.
Holbrook believes that alternatives for getting on and off the island are needed and mentioned commer-cial water taxis and barges. He also stressed the need for a real health evacuation plan.
Alternatives needed to getting on and off the island
2 FRIDAY August 23 2013 WWW.BOWENISLANDUNDERCURRENT.COM
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