Mar 302010

I don’t think that we, as islanders, have a “Plan B” to take effect if something were to happen to the Whatcom Chief. Whatcom County has a Plan B (we think) which would consist of a passenger ferry to Fairhaven with good weather trips to be determined for the Chief to haul critical vehicles back and forth.

The question remains should we, as an island community, have our own Plan B, a contingency plan to prepare us for the unexpected? And, if we do need a back up plan, what organization or group should put the plan together? Could this be a role for PLIC? Or, would it fit as part of our Fire Department’s Disaster Preparedness program?

The ferry has always seemed to me to be a rather tenuous connection. A number of things could happen (i.e. maintenance issues) which could take it out of service for a short or long term. Making a deal with the Lummis is only one problem. Even if a lease gets signed for Gooseberry Point something could happen to the ferry. The declining fortune of the national and local economy is going to affect the County’s future ability to replace the ferry and the docks.

Should there be a pro-active effort to make a plan for what the island would do in the event of a short-term or long-term cessation of ferry service? We would, of course, hope that the County would be part of the solution to any problem. But why shouldn’t we do our own assessment of the potential problem and figure out possible ways to deal with being stranded on an island? In addition to having a few good books on hand, it would be nice to know what kind of vessels are available to move cars and equipment on and off Lummi or lacking such, how we could get supplies.
(We know, for starters, that tons of rock and gravel are moved off the island by barge on an almost daily basis).

There was a time, before cheap oil, when all of these maritime communities were serviced by fleets of ships and boats. Ocean Falls in BC, isolated like an island at the tip of fjord and now a ghost town, once had a huge paper mill, hotel, homes roads and autos all delivered to the site by ship, boat and barge.

From a Transition standpoint an interesting exercise would be to imagine a scenario where we have no car or passenger ferry service and try to figure out how we would deal with the situation. It probably wouldn’t be this bad.


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