Letter: The economy of downtown Nanaimo is strongly supported by Gabriolans.

Tuesday, March 3 2015

Dear Mayor McKay and Councillors:

We represent a large number of Gabriolans who are committed to ensuring that no fixed links connect Gabriola, Mudge or any of the Gulf Islands to Vancouver Island and/or the mainland. We are currently gathering signatures - not just from islanders but other British Columbians as well - on a petition to be presented in the Legislative Assembly by our MLA Doug Routley and the NDP Transportation Critic Claire Trevena during this spring sitting. Our total count is almost 2,000 and we continue to gather signatures.

We read with concern your Council’s decision to put off expressing your concerns to the Minister of Transportation regarding the “feasibility study” that the government is completing in regard to a bridge to Mudge and Gabriola Islands. Also, while it’s been reported that at least one councillor thinks that “most Gabriolans” are in favour of a bridge, in fact we’ve collected more than 1,500 signatures from Gabriolans and Mudge Islanders alone on a petition against bridges to our islands.

Your Worship, we believe that, should the government actually ignore our concerns and build a bridge from Vancouver Island to Mudge and Gabriola Islands, the City of Nanaimo could be seriously economically impacted. The economy of downtown Nanaimo is strongly supported by Gabriolans. This is a consequence of the BC Ferries terminal being positioned in this area. Removing that terminal would remove all foot traffic and all commuter, visitor and tourist traffic associated with Gabriola and Mudge. 

We also note with great unease that the study specifically requests that the contractor consider the construction of a two and four lane highway and bridge. Why, we ask, would any thought of a four lane highway to an island with a year-round population of approximately 4,000 be considered? The only scenario that we have been able to imagine is that the government may indeed be quietly considering the concept of a BC Ferries terminal on Gabriola to shorten the trip to the mainland. This concept remains outlined on the government’s website: http://www.th.gov.bc.ca/publications/reports_and_studies/fixed_link/fixed_link.htm.

We believe that should this happen, Departure Bay and Duke Point would cease operations. Should this occur, Nanaimo would again lose significant traffic as most travellers would bypass the city.

We are respectfully requesting that you and your Council consider re-visiting this issue and express your concerns to the Minister. 

Thank you for taking the time to consider this request.

Respectfully,

~ Stephen O’Neill

On behalf of Bridge-Free Salish Sea

Editor’s Note: The Mayor’s office confirmed to the Sounder the above letter has been received, but did not issue any response or comment prior to press time.