A rally Friday at the Kootenay Bay and Balfour ferry terminals urged an end to an ongoing dispute that has seen many sailings cancelled over the past month. Photos submitted

‘Unity Sailing’ presses for end to ferry dispute

Over 100 people protested the ongoing labour action

Submitted by Our Ferry Matters

One hundred-plus people gathered from Kootenay Lake communities to support the community-led Unity Sailing rally organized by the grassroots Our Ferry Matters group on Oct. 4.

Music and stories brought people together at both Kootenay Bay and Balfour ferry terminals, and on the ferry, with a strong desire to bring an end to the ongoing labour dispute and return to regular ferry service.

“We were very happy with the turnout and the support of so many community members,” noted one of the organizers, Janet Wallace of Kootenay Lake Chamber of Commerce.

“The ongoing uncertainty in ferry scheduling is affecting small business, jobs, health care and most aspects of our daily lives,” added Wallace, who also represents the Artisans of Crawford Bay. “Today we took a stand for a safe, reliable and sustainable ferry service.”

Our Ferry Matters group is calling for the three parties involved with the ferry service – B.C Government and Service Employees’ Union (BCGEU), employer Western Pacific Marine, and the provincial government which is mandated to provide the service – to come together to ensure an agreement is reached.

Hand-made placards at the Friday event offered comments like: “Work it Out So We Can Work,” “We Need Our Ferry,” “When People Stand Together No One Falls,” and “Restore Our Ferry Service.”

Both on and off the ferry, the crowd sang songs like “this ferry is our road” version of “This Land is Your Land” and The Beatles’ “We Can Work it Out.”

“This gathering is just the start,” said Gauri Taylor of Yasodhara Ashram on the East Shore. The group plans to continue to write letters, talk to politicians, and foster solidarity around the issue. “We know that unity is what creates change. Communities all around the lake are affected, and we want to work together to keep the momentum going.”

The OurFerryMatters.org website continues to host discussions and examples of individual hardships experienced because of ferry disruptions.

Related: Kootenay Lake ferry labour dispute goes public

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