October 28, 2016

Fixed Link to the Sunshine Coast?

The Vancouver Sun has reported on the latest open houses held in the Gibsons area once again chatting about a new link for access to the Sunshine Coast. This idea has been discussed in 1998 and 2001-and it is back again.

By virtue of geography — and unsteady, expensive B.C. Ferries service — Gibsons and the rest of the Sunshine Coast that stretch another 180 kilometres north are, according to local tourism promotional fluff, the province’s “best kept secret.”

There’s now a plan brewing, an ambitious scheme that would bridge the ocean-filled gap. B.C.’s Ministry of Transportation and Infrastructure is floating proposals that would allow cars and trucks to bypass or traverse Howe Sound, the body of water that separates Gibsons and points north from the hurly-burly south.

The Vancouver Sun attended the Thursday evening session of The Sunshine Coast Fixed Link Study in a Gibsons’ hotel meeting room filled with inscrutable maps and busy display boards

The latest discussion involves several different plans. One or all could be adopted, eventually. The most viable, say people at Thursday’s open house, is a suspension bridge/road that would see traffic divert from the highway near Horseshoe Bay, cross Howe Sound at its narrowest point, touch land for a bit at tiny Anvil Island, then complete the crossing on a second bridge that would reach the shore north of Gibsons.

Now here is the interesting part-the estimated construction costs are between $ 2 Billion and $ 2.5 Billion dollars.Does that sound familiar? That is close to the estimate for the Massey Bridge across the Fraser until the Provincial Government said the exact cost was not $2.5 billion but  would be $ 3.4997 billion as reported in Price Tags last Monday.

While a fixed link would encourage local development, raise real estate prices and create jobs, an Anvil Island crossing has one more hurdle-the Island Trust which manages the islands in the Salish Sea and in Howe Sound.  A local Islands Trust trustee, Kate-Louise Stamford has stated thatIt is Islands Trust policy that we do not support fixed links on any of the islands.” So despite the fact that the link to Anvil Island seems the most expedient, the Trust and the 18 property owners on the island may not think so.

And if past experience is any guide, that may be enough to sink this fixed link alternative and bring other options back to the drawing board, such as circuitous highway from Howe Sound up towards Powell River on the north end of the Sunshine Coast.



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  1. The Island Trust is a creation of the BC government. Doesn’t the BC government have the ultimate authority? If the BC government decides that a bridge is the best interests of the Province as a whole could it not just amend the Island Trust act to mitigate any veto the Trust may have?

      1. You’re kidding again, right?
        Fisheries are collapsing. Ecosystems in decline. Extinctions accelerating. We’re changing the atmosphere of our entire planet… but that’s still not good enough for those who want to see everything come to a catastrophic end.

        1. Don’t watch so much CNN. There is no catastrophic environmental issue. The issue is catastrophic government sizes with outsized debt. We have fewer hungry people than ever and billions have been raised out of abject poverty, with far cleaner air and higher life expectancy. Are we perfect: no. Could we do better: sure. Could we get
          Three links
          Poverty reduction in Ethopia: http://www.impatientoptimists.org/Posts/2013/04/21st-Century-Progress-in-Africa-Eradicating-Hunger-and-Poverty-MDG1-in-Ethiopia
          As recently as 1981, 44 percent of the world’s population lived in extreme poverty, according to the World Bank. Now the share is believed to be less than 10 percent and falling. “This is the best story in the world today,” says Jim Yong Kim, the president of the World Bank. http://www.nytimes.com/2016/09/22/opinion/the-best-news-you-dont-know.html
          Increased life expectancy worldwide: http://www.disabled-world.com/calculators-charts/life-expectancy-statistics.php
          Far lower infant death, plus hundreds of other stories of human progress over the last few decades alone. North America and Europe also FAR cleaner than 50 years ago. (and yes China could get there too but not for 20 or so years)
          Downtown Vancouver was filled with coal and wood burning heating devices with bad bad air 100 years ago. Etc ..
          Bridge to Sunshine coast will have many e-cars eventually. Clean bro, clean. In the meantime: diesel bus to Tsawwassen Mall.

      2. Green and FN concerns always seem to trump economic concerns …
        Disjointed poppycock.
        How on earth does a highway project worth the same as a gift of $75,000 to each Sunshine Coast resident decrease poverty in Africa? Does that kind of spending of public money on so few people not constitute a major “economic concern” that is completely unrelated to anything green?

        1. If Canada is serious about 100M people by 2100 – and many are – it means well over 10M in the “Lower Mainland” alone. This implies serious expansion of the road and public transit network is vital. This means, roughly, that every city will TRIPLE in size, incl. Sunshine Coast.
          Of course more ferries, or passenger only ferries ought to be considered too.
          Might I suggest to buy some property in this area as it will go up in value as population goes from 30,000 to 100,000 !

        2. City: Population: Area:
          Vancouver 2.4m 2,700 sq. km.
          London 8.6m 1572 sq. km.
          New York 8.4m 1485 sq. km.
          Vienna 1.7m 414 sq. km.
          Why would we want to muck up the Sunshine Coast with more ridiculous sprawl?

        3. Sprawl is such a loaded word. How about: leafy neighborhoods with ample space for kids to roam in yards ? Jobs, space, tax revenue too !

        4. Actually, our 2.4M is “squeezed” into a quite comfortable 840 km2 within the Urban Containment Boundary. The rest of the 2,800 km2 is watersheds, parks and farmland. Overall, pretty sound planning, but we can do better.

        5. My math above was wrong. Based on census data, the cost of this project means that the government will spend $191,000 per Sunshine Coast resident ($7.5B on 39,300 people).
          That alone is a horrible waste and is a symbol of terrible planning. It begs the question: What are they really up to?

    1. It isn’t the property owners on Anvil, as much as it is the Islands Trust, which was set up to preserve and protect a specific area. Which is exactly what they would be inclined to do here. This wouldn’t be a failure, it would be a protection agency working as designed.

    2. Eminent Domain is an American legal term – so the appropriate answer would be “no” the BC provincial government would NOT have powers of Eminent Domain.
      … however, it may have expropriation powers over the private property owners and the regulatory powers of any quasi-governmental body created by the Province (i.e. the Province can expropriate from municipalities).

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  3. Re: “…an infrastructure project [highways and bridges] that could benefit millions of BC residents over the next few decades.”
    Oh really? That statement would require evidence and comparison.
    One could argue, using existing data that using 1 / 8,800th of the projected cost of this highway project to eliminate the annual subsidy of the two ferry runs between the Metro and Powell River would benefit millions over the decades, and would have a decent operating cost recovery. Up that to 1 / 250th over 10 years and you will have a far more diversified ferry fleet with a huge increase in service frequency and quality, all benefitting millions.
    To top it off if communities up the coast decided to apply appropriate land use to improved diversity in ferry service, they would not have to endure highway-induced sprawling car-overrun subdivisions marching up the mountainsides, and could focus on more humane forms of urbanism and less per capita cost and energy consumption.
    Lesson #1: Do not take government wisdom at face value without independent verification.

  4. “Sprawl is such a loaded word. How about: leafy neighborhoods with ample space for kids to roam in yards ? Jobs, space, tax revenue too !”
    Check out recent developments in South Surrey, Cloverdale, Maple Ridge, etc etc etc. It’s the worst of both worlds. Sprawling subdivisions with no walkable commercial or retail, no transit, total reliance on cars WITH clear cut areas for these new houses on tiny lots with no back yards.
    Your 1950’s utopian white picket fence, 2.5 kids and dog, friendly neighbourhood dream is dead (if it ever existed). Get over it.
    Here’s a fun tool, go watch how your ‘leafy neighbourhoods with ample space for kids to roam in yards’ get developed in the real world.
    Try the area around 168th and 22nd in South Surrey. Where are those leafy big back yards in this sprawl again?

  5. Moving out to the suburbs is something many people look forward to. Many native born Canadians love trees, hiking and camping too, which they can easier find closer to homes in suburbs. Many immigrants like suburban life too.
    This is not to say that cities are not the future; they are. Dense cities.
    The US has been studying this and produced an interesting video clip, with commentary:

    1. Well said Eric. In 2030 over 60% of population will be under 18 and mainly in cities. Growth, poverty, innovation, affluence and conflict all will happen in cities.
      The future is urban – a gloomy military view.
      With this, Canada will continue to attract millions and grow hopefully relatively peacefully without the chaos we already see today in many nations.
      As such, land in cities, outside of cities and on islands or remote regions, or “sprawl” , will continue in Canada and elsewhere.
      If Brentwood, Metrotown or Lougheed Mall, for example, with its dozen or so new 30+ story towers each represent the new city of the millenium, many say “not for me” and will move to the burbs or Sunshine Coast or interior BC or V Island !

      1. They’re welcome to it as long as they pay the real cost of that decision instead of relying on road subsidies to make their lifestyle possible.
        It’s too bad you’ve had such gloomy experience with cities. I get that dread with the endless monotony of suburbs.

        1. If I said, Thomas doesn’t understand that the laws of physics will ultimately control the form of development, he probably won’t know what I’m talking about.

  6. Isl Trust? Non starter. Their policy on “fixed link” was conceived (and has been defended) for public roads connecting islands to each other (Mayne to Saturna), or to Vancouver Island (Salt Spring, Quadra, Gabriola, etc). That policy is easily respected through the fact that the proposed ‘Langdale Bridge’ will give no access (hence, no ‘link’) to or from Anvil. It is a ‘crossing’ of the Island, and there will be 5km of highway on Anvil, but it will be protected by s.49 of the Transportation Act:
    49(1) A person must not, (a) without the authorization of the Minister, construct or reopen, or allow the construction or reopening of, any means of access to or from a Controlled Access Highway, or (b) obtain access to or from any Controlled Access Highway other than by way of an access point constructed or authorized by the Minister.
    So although your instinct was to free Betty Krawczyk from prison (or wherever she’s being treated) and mount a proxy attack on behalf of the Gambier Island Trust Committee, that’s been long mitigated.
    My guess is that the Province will build a restricted ‘service’ access on Anvil with warning signs and a soft gate and the local owners on Anvil will want use it as a ‘secret’ driveway access.
    The 5km route on Anvil is mostly Crown land, and will pass over or on 2 or 3 private District Lots (either purchase or expropriated. The Ministry’s consultants are referring to the two parts of the crossing as the Montagu span (from the mainland at Brunswick Pt), and the eastern Thornbrough span (to McNab Ck). The actual water crossing is only about 1000m but the actual bridge spans over both water & land are about 1400 or so.

    1. These design ideas seem already pretty advanced. Why spend so much money ($2B+) on a tiny land piece with only 30,000 or so folks today ? How realistic is this in what time frame ? by 2030 ? Why not say a Lionsgate replacement for similar cost benefiting 250,000+ ? or both ?

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