September 24, 2015

Sunshine Coast Connector: Some critical questions

Now that Minister of Transportation Todd Stone has floated the SCC balloon, the pellet shots are being fired.
From Business in Vancouver:

…  a new highway to a new community would only mean more traffic for the North Shore’s already choked bottlenecks, according to West Vancouver Mayor Michael Smith.
“I think the whole thing is completely ridiculous. I don’t know why they would float this,” Smith said.
“Obviously, with the development that would occur on the Sunshine Coast and all the day-trippers that go up there – we already have a traffic crisis on the North Shore. How are those people going to get on and off the North Shore?”
Smith said any such fixed link to the coast should come with a third crossing to Vancouver, though he acknowledged there’s little chance of that happening.
“The North Shore is the only part of the entire Metro region that hasn’t had additional road capacity – to and from – added in the last 60 years. Every other area – pick an area, and you have new bridges and tunnels and everything else and nothing for the North Shore.”
Holly Kemp, president of the Horseshoe Bay Business Association, questioned the costs of such a project.
It’s hundreds of millions if it’s not a $1-billion-plus.” Kemp said. “It seems it’s a really good diversion away from their existing transportation system, which is in fact the ferries. If they don’t have $200 million to help out the ferry system with the Horseshoe Bay terminal, then where are they going to come up with the hundreds and hundreds of millions of dollars it’s going to cost to do something like this?”
A proposed fixed link to the Sunshine Coast is something that’s been talked about for generations, according to West Vancouver-Sea to Sky MLA Jordan Sturdy, and a number of groups have been asking for a fresh look at the issue …
“Really, we want to inform the discussion with some factual information and see if there are opportunities that are worth investigating further,” he said.

Some questions:
(1)  What’s the rough estimate for the cost of an SCC: hundreds of millions, billions?  Bob Ransford thinks a minimum of $5 billion.
(2) Why is this even being floated, given other priorities in the region?  The population of the Sunshine Coast is less than that of the West End.  The Broadway rapid transit line is estimated to have an opening day ridership of several hundred thousand.  Why is the Province even talking about roads and bridges across fjords and through the Coast Mountains, while the job generator of the province will, presumably, have to go through another referendum before transit expansion goes ahead?
(3) Are there any energy-related projects tied to this?  LNG anyone?
(4) If Jordan Study, the local MLA, can support a multi-million study to “see if there are opportunities that are worth investigating,” where are Vancouver’s MLAs? Has anyone heard anything from any of them since the referendum?
(5) And, oh yeah, do we get to vote on the SCC?


UPDATE: Can’t forget to note that, as predicted, voices are being heard (notably the Mayor of West Vancouver) for expansion of the freeway network into Vancouver.  The Third Crossing lives!

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  1. “And, oh yeah, do we get to vote on the SCC?”
    I know this was a joke, but we shouldn’t hope that the transit referendum has set a precedent to vote on *any* new infrastructure. I would hope that the referendum was a one-off and not going to be repeated, even for incredibly stupid projects.

  2. I like the idea of the province brainstorming all sorts of slightly crazy ideas like this – essentially an MOT Skunkworks – but announcing specific ideas to the public is silly as it excites/infuriates people for nothing.
    Time to brainstorm a Canada Line extension to Central Lonsdale – that’s the third crossing we actually need.

    1. That one can’t or won’t ever happen. They didn’t provision the Canada line to be extended on either end easily. The trains also can’t handle steep grades as well as the other skytrain cars.

  3. The early impetus for the notion of an overland route to the Sunshine Coast was concern for Powell River and that it might turn into a ghost town – like Ocean Falls – if the paper business was to go bust. The proposed link was one of the 4 alternates the Ministry of Transportation has thus far listed among the possibilities. It would connect to Hwy 99 north of Squamish. About 85% is already there as logging roads (around north end of Jervis Inlet).
    There’s simply no argument for any of the options except to create more land development opportunities.

    1. The last time I was in Powell River there was a movement against an overland connection. Some people living there like the laid back island-like lifestyle they have.

  4. Let’s say they build this road through Squamish as proposed – wouldn’t that actually lengthen the trip to the Sunshine Coast? It takes an hour just to drive to Squamish from Vancouver, whereas the ferry trip is already less than that. The total trip to Gibson’s would, I think, be longer than any typical wait time for the ferry. So why build it? What’s the advantage?

  5. Where is the Canadian Tax payers federations opinion on this matter?…. wait they don’t criticize highway projects because they are funded by oil interests.