Jeremy Baker, of the Gabriola Island Bridge Society, said the idea of a fixed link has been floated for 40 years and debated in the legislature but the time has now come to make it happen.
“It’s not right, what BC Ferries is doing,” he said Thursday, adding that ongoing fare increases and service cuts propelled 660 Gabriola island residents to sign the petition calling for the study.
Baker said two bridges are needed — from Gabriola Island to Mudge Island, and from there to Joan Point Park — for what is now a 17-kilometre ferry trip that is supposed to be 20-minute trip.
However, regular delays mean the crossing can take three times as long, causing major inconvenience for people who work in Nanaimo or go there for doctors’ appointments, he said.
A ferry advisory committee, appointed by BC Ferries, consists mostly of rich and retired people who don’t have to deal with deteriorating service, Baker said.
“They don’t care about late ferries for the people who get off shift late, they don’t care about early ferries for people who have to get to work really early.”
Gabriola Islanders who are against the fixed crossings because they don’t want more people coming to the isolated location should consider moving elsewhere, Baker said.
“They want to keep people away.”
Transportation Minister Todd Stone said Thursday that the feasibility study prompted by the petition is being done so any future discussions about a fixed link can be based on current information.
But the ministry said in a news release that an independent consultant conducting the study will not assess the level of public support for a bridge.
The study, expected to start this fall and finish next spring, will include an examination of potential locations for a fixed link, a cost estimate and a comparison of the cost between a bridge and existing ferry service.
Jordan Sturdy, a member of the legislature and the parliamentary secretary to the transportation minister, began touring Vancouver Island last week as part of a consultation process on a 10-year transportation plan that includes the entire province.
“For the people of British Columbia, the ferry system is a hopeless case. It’s absolutely unsustainable,” Baker said.
The idea of a bridge between Vancouver and Victoria has also made the rounds over the years as ferry service becomes increasingly unaffordable.
About 4,000 people live on Gabriola Island, which draws a larger population during summer months.
BC Ferries’ service to the island east of Nanaimo was reduced as a cost-cutting measure last year when service on other routes was also chopped.
According to the Huffington Post
Hi, I’m Jeff Wood and I love living in Nanaimo! And I love helping people make their move!
My wife and I moved to Nanaimo from Richmond in 2015, after raising our two kids there. We brought along our two precocious Border Collies; Jake and Cochise, who are sure they moved to Doggy Disneyland in the process. We live in Upper Lantzville and love it!
Before becoming a Realtor, I was a professional investor owning 8 multi-family properties with 24 tenants. I also spent 20 years as an Executive Headhunter, finding talented people for Fortune 500 clients in the USA and Canada. In that role, I functioned regularly as a professional negotiator, working with both sides to create a win win scenario. I also helped candidates relocate to start their new jobs and thus I have a lot of relocation experience.
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