For Bowen Island students who attend public high school on the Mainland, there’s no way around the daily Queen of Capilano commute to class. But with increasing daily ridership causing overcrowded vessels, some Bowen students are getting left behind – and independent school board candidate Lynne Block is calling on local families to support her in delivering a solution.
“It’s a concern I’m hearing often in my conversations with Bowen families: overcrowded ferries are leaving students behind, and it’s causing our children to miss their bus on the other side,” said Block, a former resident of Bowen Island, who has commuted to and from the Mainland for work. “Last month, there were at least three reported instances of this happening, which means at least three full mornings of missed class just one month into the new school year.”
“This worrying trend can’t continue – and as a strong voice for Bowen Island on a renewed school board, I will take all steps necessary to find a solution to the problem before it gets worse.”
In response to growing demand for the service, BC Ferries has recently restored some of the sailings that were cut in 2014 on a two-year pilot. Representatives say they will press for the service to continue, but that at 36 dockings a day into Horseshoe Bay, the terminal is at its max, and additional sailings are not an option.
Local advocates have suggested that a potential work-around to this issue is to upgrade the ferry’s standard licence to class A, which would allow it to operate at a capacity of 432 passengers with two extra staff per sailing, versus 392 under class B. BC Ferries has responded by saying that the costs of this in the long term could lead to a fare increase. Another proposed solution involves the crown corporation’s procurement of the local water taxi service.
“Fixing this problem in a way that respects taxpayers while ensuring students get to school on time is possible with the right collaboration between local elected officials, the Province, and most importantly, Bowen residents,” said Block. “As an educator by trade and problem solver by nature, I have a proven record in delivering results for parents and students, and if elected to school board, Bowen Island has my word: we will fix this problem – because this isn’t just about a few missed sailings. With an ongoing affordability crisis in B.C., now more than ever, we need to support families who choose to live outside of our metropolitan areas. It’s about the future sustainability of our region as a whole.”
Block is also promising to address the safety concerns she’s heard from residents regarding ferry traffic around Bowen Island Community School (BICS). She says she will work with all levels of government to ensure measures are put in place to protect students on their way to and from class.
“On October 20, I’m asking for your trust in electing a school trustee who has lived on Bowen, and who understands its needs and the needs of our students,” said Block. “A truly functional school board acts as the eyes, ears, and heart of the education system – and I promise to build a stronger relationship between Bowen Island, West Vancouver, and the Province.”
A mother of two, Block’s eldest attended BICS, where she served on the PAC. A first-time school board candidate, she has over 30 years of diverse education experience, having worked as an elementary and secondary educator, administrator, lecturer, school district trainer, vice principal, and department head. She holds a B.A. in Education, M.A. in Education Administration, and is a recipient of the prestigious Prime Minister’s Award for Teaching Excellence.
Separate from the local race for mayor and council on Bowen, the School District #45 Trustee Election is administered through the District of West Vancouver.
Voting takes place Saturday, October 20, 2018 from 8:00 am to 8:00 pm at BICS and Westcot Elementary School.