By Steven Earle
The fuel-consumption and greenhouse gas emission implications of a fixed link to Gabriola Island have been considered. The analysis is based on the assumption that the bridge would cross from the El Verano Dr. area to Cedar via Mudge Island, and that current ferry foot passengers would have to find some alternative way to get to Nanaimo, either by car or by bus. It is also assumed that the existence of a bridge would result in a change in the travelling habits of Gabriolans and visitors to Gabriola, with an increase in the number of discretionary trips back and forth to Vancouver Island.
All of scenarios examined resulted in an increase in the fuel usage and greenhouse gas emissions for travel to and from Gabriola. The estimated increases ranged from 26% to 93% with the bridge option. The lowest number assumes that there is no increase in discretionary traffic and that 20% of current foot passengers use a bus. The highest number assumes that there is a 50% increase in traffic, and that 10% of current foot passengers use a bus.