I never, ever thought that I would be living on an island...except for maybe in my crazy dreams, being shipwrecked on a tropical island or something fun and exciting like that. You know...getting all Swiss Family Robinson and building a cool tree house or grassy hut near the beach so that I could wake every morning and go for a swim...that always intrigued me in a way...but more as a fantasy. I used to have daydreams of one day living in the country and having acres and acres of land to ride horses and pick apples and stuff. That was when I was quite young and didn't even have the reality of that situation in my mind...like who is going to take care of all of that land. It's a lot of work. Work? When you are a kid you have no idea at all what real life is like...real life as in being an adult and having responsibilities and such. I don't miss being a kid...but I miss being a kid! ha ha ha ha! Anyways...when Clint and I were tired of city living and wanting to change things up, the island seemed like the best idea ever. And it really truly was. We love living here. We love the peace, nature, community, beaches, weather and just living on "Island Time"...sloooooooow doooooown kind of pace. It's great! And I really, for the most part don't even mind taking the ferry if I want or need to get off of the island. But dealing with BC Ferries is no picnic.
BC Ferries used to be a public transportation corporation...owned of course by the Province of BC...or maybe it was even Federally run...but I don't think so. (I don't always have all of the facts...I just know what I know and sometimes pretend to know more...but eventually say that I really don't know.) Back in 2003, they went from being a Crown corporation into an independent, commercial organization. That basically means they have no one to tell them anything. Their CEO can decide on changes to schedules, routes and fares without one iota of input from the public...the people who want and NEED to use the ferry service. Today, Clint came home after getting coffee and informed me that Mr. David Hahn, CEO of BC Ferries makes $1.3 million dollars a year. Wowzas! At least he makes some decent cash, eh? His pay cheque I am sure does not make much difference to our fares, but I will tell you one thing. The rate that fares are increased is a joke to me and so many others. It is incredibly frustrating when each April 1st, fares are increased and service is the same...or even less so. Two years ago our little ferry finished getting its $16 million makeover...one of the new engines blew within the first week of the costly overhaul. Our schedule had to change so that the new and improved, slower ferry could keep up to the work load. Argh! A headline in one of last weeks papers stated that BC Ferries was upset about the decline in passengers on the ferries. Well d'uh! People can't afford to take vacations to the Vancouver Island from the mainland because it costs over $150 return...that price is for only 2 people and a vehicle. What if you want to go with a family of 4? And then, say you would enjoy seeing one of the Gulf Islands...add at least another $52 to that. (again that is based on 2 people and a vehicle...and from Victoria to Salt Spring Island) It has now become a luxury vacation if you plan on taking a ferry. And these days who can afford luxuries??
Let's bring in the bridge talk...not a fun game like cards, but a big ol' stupid and expensive bridge. And for real, once you attach a bridge to an island it ceases to be an island. Does anyone ever call Manhattan an island? It is an island...same size as Gabriola Island actually. I can't even imagine a peaceful island becoming a hectic centre of activity like crazy Manhattan. That would ruin everything. I like New York...Manhattan is amazing...I really want to go back there one day with Clint and really get to check the city and the rest of the Burroughs out. But, I got to wonder what the residents back in 1693 thought about the bridge opening to get you from Manhattan to the Bronx. Did they protest it? Did they like it because it allowed them access to the "other side"? Did it make any difference to them at all? I can see the benefit for some people having a bridge built over here. They don't want to wait for the ferry to come...if it comes on time even...and then have a 20 minute ferry ride to get to the big island. I think the older population here likes the idea of a bridge for the convenience that a bridge allows. I don't mind the wait, the loading, the ride and then finally the off loading. It is all part of the experience of Gulf Island living. (it's just too damn expensive to take as much as I may like to get over there...so I stay here, which is fine too. Why leave paradise?) I also see the "emergency" side of the bridge idea. An ambulance can just whisk you away to the hospital, no need to wait for a ferry or even a helicopter in severe cases. But a bridge to our Islands??? People move here to get peace and quiet and enjoy nature. A bridge causes more pollution...takes away even more natural space then we have already for the animals to live...causes more traffic, more people, less serenity. We would even see far more road kill due to all of the crazy speedy city visitors just trying to get to their destination in light speed...the hurry up and relax types. They have to hurry to relax to hurry back to their hurried lives. (Come to the island to chill mon...breathe in...breathe out. Forget about your work back in the city...it will be there waiting when you get back.) The Islands would all become regular cities and lose that sweet island feeling that first prompted us all to move here in the first place. And for the visitors...it would be so sweet anymore either. It would be just like home but a little more green space. Eventually, all of the green space will be filled with buildings and arenas and more and more concrete. Think about the future of this simple yet so amazing paradise. Paradise Lost!
So what can I say?...David Hahn, I feel you should understand what your "company" really is about. It's about public transportation...its about people and community. Don't lose your head over it. Decrease the ferry fares and watch your passenger numbers go up and up. You'll make far more money by charging less...amazing eh? Well, it works. Do you want people to have faith in you and ride your fleet of ferries regularly? Just do it. Be a smart man...not a greedy corporate man. Be there for the people and the people will be there for you.I can't imagine us enjoying the simple things like floating in the quiet bay with a bridge full of rushing traffic overhead. Just say no to bridges!!