To my community,
I have some concerns regarding a fixed link to Gabriola. To begin with, I’ve heard older bridge-supporters argue that young people leave Gabriola due to the weak ferry system. Well, my partner and I are young people; we moved here because we wanted to get away from Nanaimo. A bridge would bring the suburbs of Nanaimo closer to our island and at least a few young people would leave Gabriola in response.
Many Gabriolans walk on the ferry to jobs in downtown Nanaimo. These people would have to drive across the bridge and through Cedar, or deal with inadequate public transit (how many buses will come our way?), or lose their jobs, or move to Nanaimo. Furthermore, people often leave Nanaimo in search of work. When my partner and I lived in Nanaimo, the job market was very small. Would bringing Nanaimo to Gabriola truly expand the job market?
I’m also concerned by how many people believe a bridge is the only alternative to our ineffective ferry system. One thing I’ve learned since I moved to Gabriola is that Gabriolans can do just about anything. We are can-do folks. The things this community has accomplished are amazing (soup kitchens, studio tours, medical clinic, public transport, the Commons, etc.). Surely we could have a community conversation about the ferries and come up with some powerful actions.
I think our community is a tight-knit group of people who feel empowered to control their own lives. I didn’t encounter anything like this in Vancouver Island’s rural areas, so I think it’s a product of our geographic separation. I don’t think post-bridge Gabriola would flare up the way it’s doing now– and that would be a real loss.