On July 9, the SCRD Directors passed a highly significant motion. They requested the Province of BC to undertake a study to look at a “fixed link” (a road, plus possibly a bridge or tunnel across Howe Sound) in comparison to our ferry service. The SCRD resolution confirms strong Coast support for a professional feasibility study of our transportation bottlenecks.
I believe that a bridge (or tunnel) to the Coast could bring us new businesses and desperately needed jobs.
The Province of BC has already commissioned a feasibility study for a fixed link between Gabriola Island and Vancouver Island that could replace the existing ferry service. So doing a similar study for the Coast would be logical.
The economic stakes are higher for the Sunshine Coast than a cost comparison alone may show. I believe that a bridge (or tunnel) to Metro Vancouver could help reverse our rapidly diminishing industrial base and labour force.
Just look at the population changes from 1990 to 2014. The most active workforce (those aged 25 – 44) has declined from 30.9% of the total Coast population in 1990, to only 17.4% in 2014. This represents a shocking 44% decline in young workers in 25 years. Young families are packing up and moving away regularly due to lack of adequate jobs on the Coast. (These numbers were compiled by Paul Wagler, of Roberts Creek, from provincial government stats available at bcstats.gov.bc.ca/StatisticsBySubject/Demography/PopulationEstimates.aspx)
Not only is the HSPP mill shrinking again, but other resource industries have virtually disappeared. Logging, sawmilling, commercial fishing, and mining have all withered during the past 25 years. Our Government should study this matter intensively.
My own career has been spent in strategic planning and economic development. I worked on the Coast as Economic Development Commissioner from 1982 to 1987, and so from my professional experience, I can grasp the Coast’s transportation infrastructure requirements.
Public dissatisfaction with our ferry system is widespread. The Coast needs to start thinking objectively about a ferry alternative. A fact-based study of all the alternatives will help us.
Oddvin Vedo, Sechelt