Wednesday, September 28, 2005

Fall is here.

There is a deep low hanging just southwest of the Kenai Penisula in Alaska and it is creeping down the coast towards us. Tonight Haida Gwaii is expecting winds in excess of 90 km/h and the rain will be with us tomorrow. Follow it here.

I finally secured my firewood yesterday - two honest cords of fir with a little hemlock thrown in. Enough I think to compliment the two or so cords of mill ends I have left over from last year. The driveway and storage area under the house looks more like a lumber yard than anything else these days. So we're all ready to tuck into fall and winter. The rains are coming, the summer is gone and the temperate rainforest will soon resume its verdant and lively rhythm.

Tuesday, September 20, 2005

Very sad news this morning. On the heels of Constable Mike's cancer fighting initiative comes word today that Jan Daly has died from cancer.

Jan was a quiet and beautiful soul, a musician and the partner of my friend Murray Journay, geologist and Lawn Dog. I knew her mainly through music. She played guitar and sang with outfits like Contraband, the Ruby Slippers and the community choir. I remember her as someone who always enjoyed making music, who played with a smile on her face and a joie d'esprit.

She had struggled with cancer for a number of years and fought her way through various recurrences of the disease. She was loved widely around this island and I know she had close support in the end, and that when Murray returns to us from her bedside in Vancouver, he too will have dozens of friends to draw upon for support.

My father in law passed away not a year ago from this same bastard disease. I can appreciate what Murray is going through now. If you're reading now pal, you have my whole heart.

This is when small communities are at their best, when one of us needs the rest. Last Sunday at Evensong, we dedicated the readings and the service to Jan, as almost all of us in the church that day had made music with her at one point. It was a hard service to sing with that intention in it. But it was all we could do with Jan off-island in palliative care.

All we can do is send notes into the air to find her, and get some food to Murray to wrap him in the support he needs now. Jan had a lot of friends around the Island too who are all keenly feeling this loss.

If you are on island and want to help, it would probably be best to call Linda Cannon to see what is needed.

Monday, September 19, 2005

Constable Mike reports on the Cops for Cancer golf tournament held at the newly opened Bowen Island Golf Course. Yes, it has finally been unveiled. After years of fundraising, chopping of trees, blasting of rock and digging of ponds, the golf course has finally seen its first play.

As for Constable Mike all this guy seems to do is keep the peace and raise money for charity. How lucky are we to have cops like that?

Thursday, September 15, 2005

Noted this morning: The essential guide to living on a Gulf Island.

Read it and weep for the truth.
Now hear me out on this. I love the BC Ferries.

(Bowen Islanders are now staring at their screens in disbelief).

I love the Queen of Capilano, I love the inconvenience of taking a boat to get to the continent, I love the ferry workers for their general cheerful demeanour, and their ability to load cars like a jigsaw puzzle to get as many people on as they can. No question that BC Ferries has its problems, but I live on an island, and I have developed a pretty good "forgiveness" capacity. If you can't forgive BC Ferries its problems, you are going to drive yourself nuts around here.

Having said that, there is a part of BC Ferries that has always come across as "dark" to me. The upper echelons of decision making in the corporation have always seemed less open, less accessible and less responsive to the concerns of local ferry users and even more so since BC Ferries ceased being a Crown corporation and became some kind of quasi-private company. Since then it's been really weird.

Now, we've been having our fair share of ferry marshaling issues over the years and some of them have been downright hot. We are certainly in need of a larger ferry because Bowen isn't getting any smaller population-wise. BC Ferries knows this, and they have made a big stink over the past couple of years about going out to buy a new boat for the Bowen run.

Today comes word (from Powell River no less) that the corporation is having trouble negotiating for the contract on the new ferry because among other things "The infrastructure hasn't been upgraded to accommodate the larger vessel."

This is true. We are a small island municipality and it has been shown that creating a two lane loading situation in our village as it is currently constituted is downright impossible. We do have two lane unloading at the moment however.

There are solutions to this problem and every Bowen Islander has their pet ideas, and they are all expensive. The longer term and more effective the proposal, the more expensive it is. What has been missing though has been the participation of BC Ferries. As I understand it, the Corporation has not been at all interested in participating with our island in constructing a new facility. So without the new loading infrastructure, no new ferry.

There are probably 2800 property tax paying households on Bowen. That is not a lot of folks. Construction of a new facility could be a nice partnership between various levels of government if only folks saw the ferry system as part of the highway system. But apparently that isn't the case, and it really hasn't ever been the case.

Now get me straight on this. I don't necessarily want a bigger ferry here right away. I think that we haven't explored the options of foot passenger ferries deeply enough. I think there are many other things we can do to facilitate the movement of people across the Queen Charlotte Channel. What is need though is an approach from BC Ferries that is more pro-active than the one they are taking, and more pro-active of all levels of government including our own.

I think it might be time to bring together Bowen Island Municipality, BC Ferries, the provincial government, the GVRD, Translink and others, including ferry users and Bowen businesses to seriously imagine our way into the next period of growth on Bowen. And I don't mean a one time thing - I mean an ongoing dialogue around these issues so that we can discuss them in a way that leads to better thinking than simply issuing press releases washing your hands of the local situation. Expecting immediate responses to long term growth issues from any party in this situation is ridiculous. We can't expect a bigger ferry overnight. BC Ferries can't expect a new facility tomorrow. So let's drop the rhetoric and hunker down to some real work on coping with ongoing, and constantly emerging challenge.

We are all in this together. Together we have to find a way forward. If anyone wants to get this kind of a process started, give me a call.


Saturday, September 10, 2005

Our first ever weekly Bowen Island Irish (etc) music session was convened last night at The Snug. Wonderful tunes all round and a packed house with great energy. It felt like a kitchen party in there.

If you are at all interested in Irish music, come on down Friday nights from 7-10 for tunes.

Tuesday, September 6, 2005

The interregnum begins...a strange time of year when it is still summer but human activity makes it seem like fall. The day after Labour Day is some kind of strange new year, more so than the first of January, especially as we move away from life based on the seasons. It's still good swimming weather.

With the fall season beginning, some transit news. Bowen lies within the Greater Vancouver Regional District and our island is served by community shuttles which drive around the island and make getting around pretty easy if you are on a route. Thanks to the fact that Bowen Fuels have recently just started selling a 5% biodiesal blend at the gas station, these shuttles are now the only transit buses in BC running on biodiesal. Our community is, I believe, the first community in the country to have exclusively biodiesal pumps. It's only 5% but it's coming along. And with entrepreneurs Doug Hooper and Ian Thomson of the Canadian Biofuels Technology Corporation on island, we are poised to get the blend even higher.

In other transit news, Translink, the regional authority made Bowen Island part of the same zone as the North Shore, meaning that it should only cost $2.25 to from Bowen to anywhere on the North Shore (plus ferry cost). Anything to get more people out of their cars works for me. This year, I have slashed my own use of the car, making only 8 work trips to town in my car and driving less than three times a month on island with only me in the vehicle. If I'm alone, I always look for hitchhikers, but usually I just ride my bike down to the Cove (and back up the 300 feet of elevation home - pant pant).

Sustainability starts right here, baby.

Sunday, September 4, 2005

At about half past four last night my eyelids shot open just as the air around the house exploded.

Sounds like a scene from a war movie, but there was an incredible thunderstorm last night. By all accounts, several places on the island took direct hits, Somewhere within flash/bang distance of us, something attracted a bolt, and it was simply one of the loudest thundercracks I have ever heard. The sound rumbled around Howe Sound for something like thirty seconds

No evidence of damage anywhere. Only side effects were an adrenaline rush that kept me up until dawn.