Bridge-Free Salish Sea

Letter From Steve O’Neill to Todd Stone

Dear Mr. Stone:

I read with real disbelief the following quote from you regarding the proposed study for a bridge to Gabriola:

“Gabriola Island residents have petitioned the provincial government to do this study so that any future discussion about a fixed link can be based on current, factual information. On that basis, and in consideration of our vision that coastal communities are connected in a sustainable manner, we’ll assess the feasibility of a fixed link between the two islands.”

Mr. Stone, the statement in the announcement noted that “a significant number of Gabriola island residents” requested this study. As a long term resident, I am easily convinced that the majority of Gabriolans are opposed to a bridge. I need to ask how many residents constitute “a significant number” and why you chose to respond so positively and expeditiously to this request. I must also ask how you would respond to a similar request by “a significant number Gabriola Island residents” to not fund this study. “Significant” is a very subjective adjective and not helpful in evaluating the level of support for anything.

As well, neither you nor anyone in your Ministry made any reference to the position of the Islands Trust which is opposed to any fixed link. I am aware that the Trust was not consulted nor was the Gabriola Trust Area Local Trust Committee or our elected RDN Director. Mr. Stone, these are our elected representatives, and for your Ministry to bypass them in this decision is, at least, inappropriate and at most, arrogant.

Your government continues to claim that you are concerned about how your decisions impact citizens who pay taxes. This particular decision funds a study that few want and the identified public dollars could, in my opinion, more appropriately be directed towards eliminating child poverty or education challenges rather than a study that is unwanted by the majority of islanders.

I also note that the study will not be assessing the level of public support for a bridge or any potential cultural, ecological or financial impacts of a bridge on the community. It seems to me that bypassing the legitimate concerns of those of us who live here – even at this stage of the process – demonstrates a serious and disturbing indifference to our concerns. As well, it appears that neither you nor your Ministry have had any discussion with or regard for the Snuneymuxw First Nation across whose territory this prospective bridge might cross.

I am requesting that you withdraw the funds for this study and instead navigate your Ministry towards re-establishing BC Ferries as a Crown Corporation and funded similarly to other transportation systems within the province.

Thank you for your attention to this matter.

Stephen O’Neill


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