Opinion

OUT ON A LIMB: No Ferry Across the Mersey song in Quadra’s future

Make no mistake. I’d love to live on Quadra Island.

If I was independently employed, I’d be packing up my furniture, loading my canoe and paddling over to that idyllic enclave. Then I’d set up my house, crank my music and revive my occasional attempts to learn to play the bagpipes in the island’s wide-open spaces. Get to know my neighbours. Enjoy the good life.

But one of the reasons I don’t live there is that flippin’ ferry. There are  many people who do commute from Quadra to Campbell River for work but that sounds too much like the twice daily Patullo Bridge commute in the Lower Mainland between New West and Surrey.

The ferry has come up for debate in recent weeks, particularly as BC Ferry Corporation has set itself up for abuse by holding informational open houses around the province, including one on Quadra where the residents were only too happy to oblige. It was at that meeting that our man on the street Brian Kieran found out that the City of Campbell River’s presence on the Campbell River, Quadra Cortes Ferry Advisory Committee is sorely missed.

The irony of it being the Campbell River, etc. committee appears to be lost on city council because they don’t think it’s worth participating in the committee.

It’s an interesting game of perspective. For Campbell Riverites, the ferry is a quaint little visual addition to our waterfront view as it chugs across Discovery Passage every hour, returning faithfully on the half hour (or vice versa, I can never remember which), except when the wind gets too high, which isn’t all that often really.

For Quadra Islanders, the ferry is a fact of life. Even if the overriding impetus for living on Quadra is to get away from living in places like Campbell River, they still come over here on a fairly regular basis. As one resident pointed out, there’s 3,000 or so over there and they need to buy things that aren’t readily available on the island.

But the point is that the ferry is not seen as a necessity to Campbell Riverites, like it is to Quadra Islanders. And rather than looking at it as an oversite, perhaps it should be seen as more of leaving the issue to the people who are most familiar with it and most affected by it. I could see the scenario where if Quadra Islanders didn’t like what City of Campbell River officials on the committee were saying, they would complain that those Townies shouldn’t be there. Need I bring up the caustic relations between the City of Campbell River and the rural areas of the Strathcona Regional District? Are you sure you want the city represented?

And while I’m on the topic, I do have to admit to being a bit irked by Peter Gellatly’s comment about Campbell River being a dying place. (I know, I shouldn’t let it get to me...breathe in slowly, breathe out; put those thoughts in a balloon and let them float away...) To paraphrase Steve McQueen in that classic film Papillon, “We’re still here...”

Campbell River has not seen a mass exodus of population that other communities who lost pulp mills have seen. So calling it a dying town does nothing to further the debate. It’s just spite.

Now, we’re all islanders of course. Our island is just really big so we sometimes act like a mainland. If we ignore the fact that most of our food and others goods are trucked onto Vancouver Island via a ferry, we could ostensibly live our life without ever leaving the island. It was pointed out some time back that Vancouver Island probably only has about three days’ worth of supplies on its shelves, should we ever get cut off from the mainland.

So, the point is we’re an island too and perhaps Quadra and Cortes’ issues with the ferries are our issues too. The ferry to Vancouver is getting almost prohibitively expensive and I already have to seriously consider whether a trip to Quadra is really necessary because of the additional cost of the ferry.

Otherwise, I’d be over there all the time. Heck, I might even move there. Scotland the Brave anyone?

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