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qathet Regional District chair delivers monthly report at board meeting

Regional district directors hear about Northern Sunshine Coast Ferry Advisory Committee meeting, and meeting with provincial minister of municipal affairs
PROVIDES REPORT: qathet Regional District chair Patrick Brabazon updated the board on his activities for the month of December, including a Northern Sunshine Coast Ferry Advisory Committee meeting, which covered berthing issues at Westview Terminal, and Malaspina Sky [above] passengers being left at Earls Cove Terminal.

In his monthly report to the qathet Regional District (qRD) board, Electoral Area director and board chair Patrick Brabazon outlined ministerial and ferry advisory committee meetings.

At the December 15 board meeting, Brabazon said he’d taken part in a conference call with the provincial minister of municipal affairs, with all of the mayors and chairs of the regional districts from the area, to have a chance to check in. He said typically, there is an opportunity to make some comments about the municipality or regional district.

Brabazon said this particular meeting, with the minister of municipal affairs and minister of Indigenous relations and reconciliation, did not go well, with time management being “abysmal.” He did not have an opportunity to make a presentation regarding qRD to the ministers as a result.

“I would have mentioned that we had come to a harmonization agreement with the Tla’amin Nation before the treaty,” said Brabazon. “This was simply a means of making sure we didn’t step on each others’ toes as far as the land boundaries were concerned. We are not doing something on our side of the line that will adversely affect them and vice-versa.

“That was good news. There is essentially no conflict between us and Tla’amin. That would have been a very brief report from me, but I didn’t get to make it.”

Brabazon then reported on a meeting with the Northern Sunshine Coast Ferry Advisory Committee earlier in December. He said the issue of service notifications was discussed, for when ferries break down, when there are staffing issues, or other problems. According to Brabazon, the notifications can be “abysmally late.” He said that was noted by BC Ferries staff in attendance.

Brabazon said with regard to the Texada Island ferry, Westview Terminal is probably the only terminal that has one berth and two routes. He said two ferries can’t be squeezed into the same berth at the same time, so somebody has to take short shrift, and usually that is the Texada ferry.

“This is a longstanding issue and there was conversation back and forth,” said Brabazon. “The Texada representative made it quite clear that from their point of view, it’s totally unacceptable. The only practical solution would be a slight adjustment in the timing of the comings and goings of the ferries.”

Brabazon said another long-standing issue is connectivity and the “mad rush” between Langdale and Earls Cove to get the last ferry of the night. He said there was an occasion where the ferry sailed from Earls Cove on the last sailing of the night with four vehicles, even though there were 20 vehicles trying to drive north up the highway for the last ferry.

Brabazon said if the Malaspina Sky crew knew there were 20 vehicles northbound, they might decide to wait a little longer.

“BC Ferries needs a protocol to handle that,” said Brabazon. “What that would require is a protocol where we, who want to catch the ferry at Earls Cove, have to alert BC Ferries that we are going to do so.

“If the chief steward could come up with 20 cars, that information would be passed to Earls Cove and the master there would make a decision. If he decided to delay the sailing for 10 minutes because there is traffic heading north, maybe that problem could be greatly alleviated.”