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.
Consequent to this decision being made public, our group organized and in a rather short time amassed more than 2,100 signatures of British Columbians opposed to the very idea of a study and a bridge. More than 1,600 of these signatures were from residents of Gabriola and Mudge Islands. This petition was tabled in the legislative Assembly by MLAs Doug Routley and Claire Trevena on April 13, 2015. Our group chose to petition the Members of the Legislative Assembly rather than address a request to the Minister because we wanted to adhere to the Legislature’s own guidelines regarding petitions.
We believe that the majority of residents of Mudge and Gabriola Islands do not welcome even the consideration of a bridge to either island. We believe that the amount of money that was allocated to this study could have been better used for other purposes that would not have such potentially negative impacts on very sensitive social, cultural, ecological and economic environments.
We are asking the Members of the Committee to seriously consider these negative consequences and to recommend that the completed study be shelved and that any further study be focused on improving the quality and reducing the cost of the service provided to our islands by BC Ferries.
These islands are protected for the people of British Columbia, not just for those of us privileged to live on them. Any imposition of a fixed link would, in our opinion, destroy the unique and remarkable quality and ecology of these distinctive islands.
Thank you for your consideration of this matter.
On behalf of Bridge-Free Salish Sea