February 3, 2016
Innovative solutions for meeting transportation needs around Howe Sound will be needed in the future. Some will succeed and others will be challenged. Upcoming residential and commercial developments in Squamish, Britannia, Horseshoe Bay and Gibsons will bring increased traffic on existing transportation routes in and around Howe Sound over the next decade.
Limited sailings and rising costs of BC Ferries have created an opportunity for Pacific Ferries who have just launched a passenger ferry from Horseshoe Bay to Gibsons. Bowen Islanders enjoy a happy commute to and from the city via a private bus service and can then stick their thumb out at any Bowen Lift stop to get home.
The Province of BC has commissioned a feasibility study for a highway link from the Sunshine Coast to the mainland. Reactions have been mixed as expected, but a fixed link will always remain a question in people’s minds if not explored.
The Squamish Connector, a private commuter bus service was launched in 2014 and has added a second bus to fill the growing need and gap left between BC Transit and Translink for the Sea to Sky commute. Squamish is also home to one of the first DC Fast Charging stations for electric vehicles. The number of electric vehicles is expected rise and with it the opportunity for more charging station locations. A company from Powell River has been studying a high-speed transportation option for Squamish to Vancouver with a $500k grant from Transport Canada.
Water taxis and barges are a common site in Howe Sound as they transport people, materials and supplies from the mainland to the more remote spots around Howe Sound. Many services exist either on a scheduled or ad hoc servicesuch as Mercury Transport , Don’s Water Taxi, Cormorant Marine, Sunshine Coast Water Taxi. With a healthy filming industry, water access only homes, summer camps and projects, they are kept busy.
The only non-freight option on CN track from North Vancouver north along the Sea to Sky corridor, is the Rocky Mountaineer tourist train from to Whistler. A commuter rail service utilizing the existing track is commonly questioned. Some will recall the days when the regularly scheduled BC Rail train could be flagged down enroute to and from Prince George.
When time and money are not a priority, there are many pleasant ways to transport around the sound and enjoy the beauty. The Sea to Sky Marine Trail was launched in 2015 and is an official marine trail connecting the Trans Canada Trail at Horseshoe By over the water to Squamish.
In order to protect our clean air, water, health and safety and the future of Howe Sound, effective and innovation solutions need to keep up with the pace of development.