Letter: A bridge to Gabriola won’t just be a bridge for Gabriola

Monday, December 15 2014

The BC Ministry of Transportation and Infrastructure (MOTI) has just awarded a contract to Calgary-based CH2M Hill to study the feasibility of a bridge connecting Gabriola and Mudge Islands to Vancouver Island.

This might be wonderful news to a few people, as they think that a bridge will just be a bridge for us. Most pro-bridge people I have talked with think this way. But it seems they are mistaken. They only need to look at the conditions of the contract, the Work/Service schedule on the MOTI website to see that consideration will be given to whether a two- or four-lane bridge would be required “to meet demand in the peak period.” 

Would there ever be a four-lane bridge just for the convenience of Gabriola? No! This possible bridge would most likely come over from Cedar and Mudge and through the El Verano area. But in the grand scheme of things, it wouldn’t end there. There would be a highway across our island, to the eastern side, to connect to a ferry terminus. The M0TI website says, “A potential fixed link to Vancouver Island” details proposed alignments and projected roads from Cedar to Mudge and across Gabriola. A map shows with a thick red line the possible road across Gabriola. This potential bridge/ferry link is not a new idea; it has been around for 40 years or more. Bridge equals highway equals short ferry ride to the Lower Mainland.

How many times do people have to be told this? It has been the elephant in the room for too long now. This is what we will get if we do not stop this now. Many lives will be disrupted, especially those along the route of the bridge terminus and the highway. Our fragile island, which, along with the other islands of the Salish Sea, is a destination for many people in BC and in Canada and abroad who come for solace and a unique way of life. This specialness is honoured by our Island Trust official community plan which opposes any fixed link or disruptive highway infrastructure. Why would anyone wish to change that for what might just be their own convenience? How many people signed the bridge feasibility study, unaware of the implications of that decision? 

We have to think of the greater good, not our own personal preferences.

And we must not give in to the propaganda coming from this government that states that the consultation will not give the time of day to public concerns. Now that’s pretty arrogant, wouldn’t you say? 

We have to remember this is what the so-called “powerful” do. Study history and you will discover that they have done this for centuries. They attempt to discourage and deflate public concern by saying that there is no use because they will do what they want to do anyway. That is a ploy to dampen possible wider protest. 

If you are now worried that this is not a bridge for us but part of a bigger overall re-engineering of this island, come join the fight and together we will oppose and stop this crazy notion.


Sheila Haniszewska