Kim Barton-Bridges devotes countless hours to listening to people and bringing their ideas to BC Ferries
When Kim Barton-Bridges moved to the qathet region in 1998, the ferries had an almost magical appeal to her whole family. After taking the ships that connect Horseshoe Bay to Langdale and Earls Cove to Saltery Bay, her daughters returned home convinced they were going to live on the ferries.
“I remember my girls telling people we were going on two boats,” she said in a profile provided by BC Ferries. “A decade later, the magic had kind of worn off, and I thought it would be good to work on some of those challenges.”
Barton-Bridges has been a member of the Northern Sunshine Coast Ferry Advisory Committee (FAC) since 2013 and its chair since 2016. As a passionate volunteer, she says it’s an opportunity to hear and understand different perspectives and take measures to make her community a better place, which motivates her.
“For me, it’s about taking the time to listen to people and respond to them,” Barton-Bridges said, “and pitching those ideas to people. [at BC Ferries] who can take action or do something with these ideas. It is the opposite of individualism. It’s important that it’s not just about my program and my issues, but about what’s best for the community.
Barton-Bridges and his fellow CAF members are among those recognized across the country, according to BC Ferries, as April 24-28 is National Volunteer Week across Canada. The annual event aims to celebrate the positive impact of volunteering in communities. This year’s theme, Empathy in Action, celebrates the ways in which volunteers raise awareness of the experiences of different members of the community and build their capacity to work collectively towards common goals.
“Empathy isn’t just about reacting to a crisis, it’s about looking at things from different angles,” Barton-Bridges said, when asked what the theme means to her. “We have a big region and there are probably 20,000 ideas for how the ferries should work.”
Northern Sunshine Coast FAC members work year-round to bring these insights and ideas to BC Ferries in the form of advice and information that helps inform day-to-day operations, terminal and vessel improvements , schedule changes and other initiatives. There are no days off for an CAF President, who responds to emails, phone calls and questions from community members around the clock.
“I hope community members know that I’m listening and they’re being heard,” Barton-Bridges said.
In her role as FAC President, she notes that helping people understand the ferry system, being a point of connection for questions and concerns, and serving as a channel of communication are some of her most important duties.
BC Ferries Vice President of Strategy and Community Engagement Brian Anderson echoes that sentiment.
“Our ferry advisory committees form a vital link to the communities we serve,” Anderson said. “They listen and respond to community members, and help open the doors of communication by sharing information, advice and ideas. We are very grateful for their dedication and the long hours we know they devote to their work with us.
In addition to her role on the advisory board, Barton-Bridges is active in several community roles, including her work with the Pacific Region International Summer Music Association (PRISMA), bringing music from live orchestra to small coastal communities, and as a founding member and board chair of the Powell River Hospice Society. Although she has retired from her role with the Hospice Society, it remains a community initiative close to her heart.
“I had to leave because I reached my term limit, but I will get back there one way or another,” Barton-Bridges said.
The activity that is perhaps closest to his heart, however, can be summed up in two words: Funday Monday. Every Monday, Barton-Bridges provides babysitting for her grandchildren, who dubbed the weekly event Funday Monday.
But Mondays aren’t the only time she spends with her growing family. Buying an RV during COVID-19 was directly aimed at being able to spend more quality time with her daughters and grandchildren.
“The intergenerational bond is so important,” Barton-Bridges said.
Although Funday Monday and RV camping trips are family affairs, his activities with the Ferry Advisory Board are something other members of his community can get involved with.
“It definitely brings awareness to the bigger picture,” Barton-Bridges said. ” Everyone should [volunteer] at least once in their life. It’s good for you. I know it has been good for me.
Anyone interested in being part of the Northern Sunshine Coast Ferry Advisory Board can contact Barton-Bridges at [email protected]