Bridge-Free Salish Sea reacts to the Gabriola bridge decision

Steve O’Neill

Bridge Free Salish Sea

Tuesday, February 2 2016

On January 25, 2016, the Ministry of Transportation and Infrastructure concluded that while a bridge to Gabriola and Mudge Islands appears to be technically feasible, it would not be a cost-effective alternative to the current ferry link.

Further, the Ministry confirmed that the Government of British Columbia will not consider a fixed link to Gabriola Island at this time.

While the Bridge-Free Salish Sea group acknowledges and agrees with the decision by the government, we are left wondering why the $200,000 study was undertaken in the first place. 

The Minister of Transportation Todd Stone had access to previous studies confirming that a bridge was not acceptable to the residents of Gabriola and Mudge islands. He was also aware of the stated position of the Islands Trust against fixed links to the islands within the Trust. 

The Minister initiated the study based solely on a petition signed by 609 individuals – a petition that was not even tabled in the Legislative Assembly. Furthermore, the Minister also had no formal response to a following petition signed by over 2,100 people -1,641 of whom were residents of Gabriola and Mudge Islands - that opposed the study and supported the position of the Islands Trust in this matter.

While pleased with the outcome of the study, the BFSS group remains  concerned with the government’s statement that it “will not consider a fixed link at this time.” 

In times of restraint, we islanders are happy to assist the government in finding ways to save funds and ensure the viability and sustainability of our marine highway. Perhaps returning BC Ferries to its previous incarnation as a Crown Corporation might be a wise first step.

Possibly, before deciding to spend significant amounts of taxpayers’ money on any subsequent studies concerning a fixed link to Gabriola and Mudge Islands, the Minister of the day may wish to actually meet with those of us who live here to ascertain the wisdom of once again opening this can of worms.