I am writing this letter on behalf of the residents of Denman Island in perhaps a last attempt to have BC Ferries see reason in this whole cable ferry debacle.
Updated information that has come to light, particularly in Peter Kimmerly’s article and website require significant clarification from the corporation before any further steps are taken.
There continues to be overwhelming opposition in our community to this project, which will only become stronger in light of these new revelations.
One critical issue that has taken on more significance of late is the wind speeds that are possible in Baynes Sound and the effect they will have on the cable ferry. The lateral force of the wind will add considerable stress to the cables.
How often has BC Ferries estimated that the cable must be replaced? Surely the corporation will not run the ferry until a cable breaks then — and only then — replace it.
The estimates on the Kimmerly website are quite different from BC Ferries estimates. His tests and conclusions seem to be supported by a number of engineers with experience and expertise in this area.
Who are we to believe?
For us these concerns alone call into question the whole “consultation” process.
We do not believe consultation has taken place from the very first meeting regarding the cable ferry proposal. BC Ferries has always told us what they were doing, they have never asked us what they should do.
Another important consideration for Denman Islanders is the fact that this is a one-off technology being used on only one route in the whole BC Ferries system. How does the transferability of vessels fit into this scenario?
We feel we are being orphaned without a backup when something does go wrong with the cable ferry.
From our perspective the flawed planning, which becomes evident on the Kimmerly website, and the one-of-a-kind technology are reasons enough to cancel this whole project. However, there are other reasons for cancelling as well.
The proposed $19-million savings over the 40-year life of the project will vanish in replacing cables more frequently than the corporation admits. It will also vanish when the cost of new terminals, parking, and loading areas are taken into account.
As well all the preparation work that has been done during the past two years has already eaten up a considerable amount of the “savings.”
Finally, the best reason for cancelling the cable ferry is because of the social and economic affect it will have on the Denman Island community.
In the final analysis, the loss of some very well-paying jobs will have a huge impact on our community. Not only is the loss financial but it is also social.
Those workers contribute to the economy but they also contribute to the social fabric of our island. Many of them are volunteers in the many facets that make Denman unique. They are our friends and neighbours who we care about and whose lives we do not wish to see placed in turmoil.
We still believe that one of the original goals for the government takeover of coastal ferries many years ago was to maintain vibrant, growing communities all along the coast. Unfortunately, currently it seems to be only the bottom line that is important to BC Ferries, not the communities they serve.
Editor’s note: Frank Frketich is president of the Denman Island Residents’ Association.