Bridge-Free Salish Sea

Ferry minister says he is not responsible for ferries (May 5, 2016)

Dear friends,

Last week I had the opportunity to ask the Minister of Transportation about our ferry system. We covered a wide range of issues from affordability to the contracts for building new ferries, and upgrading existing ferries in Poland.

Perhaps the most enlightening moment came when the minister said he wasn’t actually responsible for BC Ferries. That could explain the mess that our marine highway is in at present.

There is no question that we need to make sure that our ferry-reliant communities are served effectively. That is not happening and the minister gave no plan for how it will happen in the foreseeable future.

If you are interested in looking through the debate, you can read it here, or watch the video here.

As always I look forward to hearing from you and discussing ways to make our ferry system work for all who rely on it.

Best regards,

Claire Trevena
Opposition Spokesperson for Transportation, Highways, and BC Ferries

Bridge-Free Salish Sea Reacts to the Gabriola Bridge Decision

On January 25, 2016, the Ministry of Transportation and Infrastructure concluded that while a bridge to Gabriola and Mudge Islands appears to be technically feasible, it would not be a cost-effective alternative to the current ferry link.

Further, the Ministry confirmed that the Government of British Columbia will not consider a fixed link to Gabriola Island at this time.

While the Bridge-Free Salish Sea group acknowledges and agrees with the decision by the government, we are left wondering why the $200,000 study was undertaken in the first place.

Minister of Transportation Todd Stone had access to previous studies confirming that a bridge was not acceptable to the residents of Gabriola and Mudge islands. He was also aware of the stated position of the Islands Trust against fixed links to the islands within the Trust.

The Minister initiated the study based solely on a petition signed by 609 individuals – a petition that was not even tabled in the Legislative Assembly.
Furthermore, the Minister also had no formal response to a following petition signed by over 2,100 people -1,641 of whom were residents of Gabriola and Mudge Islands – that opposed the study and supported the position of the Islands Trust in this matter.

While pleased with the outcome of the study, the BFSS group remains  concerned with the government’s statement that it “will not consider a fixed link at this time.”

In times of restraint, we islanders are happy to assist the government in finding ways to save funds and ensure the viability and sustainability of our marine highway. Perhaps returning BC Ferries to its previous incarnation as a Crown Corporation might be a wise first step.

Perhaps, before deciding to spend significant amounts of taxpayers’ money on any subsequent studies concerning a fixed link to Gabriola and Mudge Islands, the Minister of the day may wish to actually meet with those of us who live here to ascertain the wisdom of once again opening this can of worm.

Gabriolans, Mudgekins still awaiting report on bridge study

Letter to Todd Stone
Minister of Transportation and Infrastructure
November 19, 2015

Dear. Mr. Stone:

We are writing you once again to enquire regarding the study that your ministry contracted to explore the feasibility of a bridge to Gabriola and Mudge Islands. We have written you a number of times regarding the status of the study and have had no response from either yourself or anyone from your ministry.
We recently read in our local newspaper that “Ministry staff has said that the study into a fixed link between Gabriola and Vancouver Island will be released, but they have no timeline on when that might be.” We understood that the study was originally due to be completed by February 27, 2015 and released mid-August this year. Mr. Stone, it’s going on nine months and nothing has been released.

Given how richly and quickly the study was funded by your ministry having to wait nine months for the results is somewhat disconcerting. We still maintain that the study was unnecessary and the allocated $200,000, could have been far better used to assist in dealing with this province’s abysmal child poverty rate, supporting food banks or even looking at alternative energy sources.
However, acknowledging that the funds have been spent, we hope to see the results of the study before the end of the year – perhaps while the Legislative Assembly is sitting so that the results can be presented in the Legislature and debated by MLAs.

As you are aware from previous correspondence, our group represents more than 2,100 British Columbians and more than 1,600 Gabriola and Mudge Islanders. We are committed to supporting the position of the Islands Trust regarding no fixed links to any of the Gulf Islands, and remain strongly opposed to any fixed link to Mudge and Gabriola Islands. We would appreciate the courtesy of being advised regarding the status of the study.


Stephen O’Neill
On behalf of Bridge Free Salish Sea

Memo to Government of BC Finance Committee

To: Members of the Select Standing Committee on Finance and Government Services
From: Stephen O’Neill, Spokesperson for Bridge Free Salish Sea (Gabriola Island)
Date: October 3, 2015
Re: The study to consider the feasibility of a bridge from Vancouver Island across Mudge Island to Gabriola Island

We understand that the committee recently received a presentation in Nanaimo in support of this study that has been contracted to explore the feasibility of a bridge or fixed link from Vancouver Island, across Mudge Island to Gabriola Island. The Committee Members are aware that the position of the Islands Trust on this matter is clear. The Trust does not support any fixed links to any of the islands within the Trust’s mandate. The original request for this study was apparently made directly to the Ministry of Transportation and Infrastructure via a petition signed by 609 people. The Ministry responded rather quickly with the announcement that $200,000 had been dedicated to have this study undertaken and completed early in 2015.

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Letter to Todd Stone re: feasibility study due date (Sept. 3, 2015)

Dear Mr. Stone:

We were provided a copy of a memorandum from Aleksandra Brzozowski, Acting Regional Planning Manager, Islands Trust Northern Office to the Gabriola Island Local Trust Committee on July 13, 2015, in which the Committee was notified that “due to staffing changes in the consulting firm contracted to produce the study, the Fixed Link Feasibility Study is still being drafted and will not be published this summer as initially expected. MOTI staff confirmed that the LTC will be notified promptly upon the report’s completion.”

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Letter of support from Gulf Islands Alliance (dated May 11, 2015)

To Steve O’Neill,
Bridge-Free Salish Sea

Dear Steve

At our quarterly meeting May 9, 2015, the Gulf Islands Alliance unanimously endorsed the positions of Islands Trust and the Bridge-Free Salish Sea Collective opposing fixed links to and between islands in the Islands Trust Area.

GIA is concerned that too much emphasis is given short-term, and often short-sighted, economic factors in deciding matters that could undermine the ‘preserve and protect’ goal of the Islands Trust Act.

Members of our 10-year-old non-profit voluntary group and others across the islands see a bridge  to Gabriola as an urbanizing precedent that darkens the widely-supported, enlightened vision of maintaining the Gulf Islands as a special place for nature and all British Columbians.


Dave Steen
Acting Chair
Gulf Islands Alliance

P.S. Our detailed position on the Gabriola bridge is available on our website.

Letter to Todd Stone (dated June 15, 2015)

Dear Mr. Stone:

Although the Legislative Assembly is not sitting and may not sit again this fall, we wanted to ensure that you remain aware and informed regarding our petition to oppose any fixed link to any of the Gulf Islands. In particular, we want you to be aware that there is a very active and determined group of individuals and organizations on Gabriola and Mudge Islands who continue to oppose even the idea of a bridge to link Mudge and Gabriola to Vancouver Island.

During the spring sitting of the Legislature, when questioned by MLA Claire Trevena regarding the timing and intent of the feasibility study contracted by your ministry, you replied: “I just wanted to highlight, again, that the intent here is to do a feasibility analysis. Nothing is going to be imposed on the people of Gabriola Island. What we want to do here is based on the fact that we received a tremendous amount of requests from people on Gabriola Island to at least understand what it would cost.”

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Summary of May 14/2015 Meeting in Victoria at the Legislative Assembly

Doug Routley our MLA and Claire Trevena the NDP Transportation Critic coordinated this meeting with two Assistant Deputy Ministers and Chris Bowers and Steve O’Neill representing BFSS.

We met with Doug briefly before the meeting and then attended the meeting with Kevin Richter, Assistant Deputy Minister of Highways and Deborah Bowman, Assistant Deputy Minister of Transportation Policy and Programs along with Doug and Claire.

Initially the meeting was scheduled for ½ hour, but it continued on for almost an hour. Both Doug and Claire eloquently addressed the issues surrounding the “feasibility study” and expressed the concerns that they had regarding the way the study had been initiated and the reasons for initiating the study in the first place. They also asked when the study might be released and in what format.

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