Letter: Trust Anti-Bridge Policy needs to be altered

Tuesday, August 11 2015

To accept the Gabriola Bridge, the Islands Trust would have to alter its policy of “No bridges or tunnels to any island in the IT” or give up its jurisdiction of Gabriola as part of the trust area. The “Preserve and protect “mandate does not have to destroy the very community Islands Trust supposedly serves, both socially or financially, by staying with a ferry.

The Islands Trust appears to be operating just like a National Park. They have an anti development agenda and are actively discouraging more development on the island. The Islands Trust appears to be looking at reducing people’s footprints upon the island in favour of the non-human environment, which is one reason why they resist a bridge so adamantly. They see this as a survival issue as well. Their definition of a trust Island, is one with no bridges, if Gabriola gets a bridge, then it is no longer a Trust island.

 The Islands Trust fixed anti-bridge stance has cost the province and Gabriola, an estimated $150 million in sunk BCF costs these past 30 years and if it continues will cost a further $485 Million in sunk BCF costs for the next 30 years. Add the loss in assessed property values on Gabriola at $175 million in the last 4 years, while they battled with government over the ferries and the resultant totals are staggering. The Islands Trust, its activist supporters and the NDP, have coalesced and focussed Islander anger on the BC Ferries, MOTI and the current government. The Trust has a lot to answer for, as several past governments, on both sides of the political aisle, have expressed serious interest in building a fixed link to Gabriola. This time around, the Islands Trust and its NDP supporters, have actively tried to squash the bridge feasibility study before it is even released, saying their policy statement (penned in 1993) denies any possibility of a bridge!

A recent quote from the National Post said, “whenever the issue is raised, Islanders are quick to shoot it down.

“We fought this battle in ’69, ’81, ’93 and then again in 2008,” said Sheila Malcolmson, then chairwoman of the Islands Trust Council, a body in charge of regulating development and land-use planning on the islands.

Sheila is now an NDP candidate for Nanaimo in the next federal election.

~ Jeremy Baker on behalf of the Gabriola Bridge Society