October 28, 2016
In 2015 the Province announced it would be conducting a feasibility study for a possible highway link between the Sunshine Coast and Metro Vancouver. The results of this study were shared with the public in October at a series of open houses. Staff from consulting firm Binnie and Associates and Ministry of Transportation and Infrastructure were present to answer questions about the story boards. Each of the more “feasible” options from an engineering perspective had estimated costs. The intention of the study, as the Province’s website states “examines the feasibility of a fixed link to replace the ferry service between the Sunshine Coast and the Lower Mainland.” Costs for each of the options is in the billions and the public have yet to understand how this compares against the existing ferry service.
The Province is inviting the public’s comments to the study by November 8th, 2016.
The Islands Trust governs the Islands in Howe Sound, the reasons the BC Government created the Islands Trust in 1974, are still valid today: ‘to preserve and protect the trust area and its unique amenities and environment for the benefit of residents of the trust area and of the province generally, in cooperation with municipalities, regional districts, improvement districts, other persons and organizations and the Government of British Columbia’.
Consideration of the Trust’s policies were set aside for this feasibility study. While bridges across Gambier and Bowen were ruled out as the least feasible, the Anvil Island Link option clearly contravenes the Island’s Trust policy 5.3.2 It is Trust Council’s policy that no island in the Trust Area should be connected to Vancouver Island, the mainland or another island by a bridge or tunnel, notwithstanding the existing bridge between North and South Pender Islands.
Sustainable economic development while protecting the biodiversity of the environment is a fine balance. The study confirmed the Fixed Link options fail on the environmental scorecard. Studying more feasible ways to improve transportation safety, reliability and frequency without harming our environment must be a top priority for the benefit future generations.
It is disappointing the Future of Howe Sound Society was not contacted as a “stakeholder” in the region. We analyse each project with an eye to the overall impact on Howe Sound’s ecology, economy, social impacts, and recreational impacts. We cannot support projects that would put into jeopardy the ecology of Howe Sound or promotes industrialization and development of the region without first having completed a comprehensive cumulative impacts planning process. We will continue to analyse this project and engage in the feedback process.