Dear Mr. Stone.
I am writing to express my astonishment at your letter to the UBCM regarding their analysis of BC Ferries.
Consistently over the two “engagement” processes that Judy Kirk led for your government coastal communities called for a socio-economic analysis of service reductions. Your government refused to do one. When I asked my MLA, Jordan Sturdy about the socio-economic effects of cuts he told me that regions of the province that contribute to the GDP get infrastructure He pointed to northeast BC and Whistler in particular and talked about how the service reductions would contribute to protecting our bond rating. With no analysis of the contribution of coastal communities, your government mandated service reductions anyway.
It would be fantastic to have, as you say, "a dialogue to discuss creative solutions” but YOU wouldn’t allow it. Your government said that BC Ferries was not allowed to have a creative discussion about cost savings, instead, BC Ferries was given a mandate tha the savings had to be found through service reductions. Bowen islanders provided many incredibly interesting ways of saving money on our route and reducing costs without service reductions, but your government refused to hear them because you were acting on Treasury Board mandates to reduce services.
You dropped the ball on this. You imposed conditions on the dialogue and constrained creativity. Your consultants ignored the results of the first round of consultations that said that coastal communities wanted to discuss ferries as highways, and instead embarked on a second round about service reductions that no one asked for and that were not subjected to any analysis beyond the effect they would have on our provincial bond rating. My MLA told me this personally.
To now suggest that the UBCM, and by extension the citizens of coastal communities are unwilling to have a creative conversation about is completely astonishing. Your government has never provided an opportunity for that discussion, and this letter does not do that at all. Far from it. It engages in a confrontational tone and sets the stage for a fight with coastal communities. This is not the way forward.
I suggest you return to the drawing board and make coastal communities a meaningful offer to engage, or at least work with the already extensive creative ideas from that we generated over the last two rounds of your sham consultation in 2012 and 2013.
I would appreciate a response to this email. I am publishing it my blog and will publish your response there too.
cc: Bowen Island Mayor and Council
Sheila Malcolmson, Chair, Islands Trust