“Once again the bridge arises”, Trustee Sheila Malcolmson said in her report to the Local Trust Committee at their June 28 meeting at WI Hall.
Malcolmson said the Coastal Ferry Act instituted by the BC Liberal government “opened the door to bridges” as a way to provide “service across the waters”. She said she didn’t think there have been any changes to that section of the Act in a recently ratified revision, but since that revision there have been renewed calls for a bridge through letters to the editor.
That means, Malcolmson said, that once again Gabriola and Mudge Islanders will be “called upon to articulate their arguments against the bridge”. She said Gabriolans and Mudge Islanders “have faced the threat of a bridge more than any other island, because of our proximity to Vancouver Island and also our location as a stepping stone from the mainland to Vancouver Island”.
“I’ll continue to remind people”, Malcolmson said, “there is no way a bridge is going to get built for the convenience of the commuting public from Gabriola to Nanaimo. It’s always going to be a part of a larger scheme”.
As previously reported, plans to run a bridge from the mainland to Valdez Island have been proposed. The suggestion has been to then run a highway up the east coast of the Valdez onto Gabriola via a bridge over Gabriola Pass. The highway would continue, probably along Martin Road, to South Road and then follow South Road to a bridge across False Narrows to Mudge, then cross another bridge to Cedar. As a variation on the theme, a shorter ferry run (rather than a bridge) from the mainland to a dock on either Valdez or Gabriola has also been proposed.
Malcolmson said she would continue to advocate for the Trust Policy Statement and the Gabriola and Mudge Official Community Plans “all of which derive from extensive public consultation, (and) all of which were signed by the Minister of Community Affairs. All three of those documents articulate very clearly the community opposition to a bridge. And the cost to the island ecology, peace, and local economy is much too great to contemplate. But heads up, we’re going to get called on to articulate that again”.
Trustee Gisele Rudischer said someone was quoted as saying the proposed bridge “would be paid for by the 4,000 residents of Gabriola and the 5,000 residents that they were sure would move to Gabriola should the bridge be built”. She thought even 9,000 people would be hard-pressed to pay for the bridge. Further, she said, it sounded as if either Gabriolans “pay for the ferry or they’re going to replace it with a bridge – and then we have to pay for that. There’s really no win for Gabriola here”. “Or Mudge”, Malcolmson added.
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