Gabriola’s Bridge Still Being Talked About
I found this in today’s Times Colonist. Not sure who wrote it as it doesn’t give credit but I thought it was well written so I thought I’d post it here for everyone to ponder over. I’m still not going to hold my breath regarding this bridge being built from Nanaimo proper out to Gabriola Island as I still think it’s just a lot of talk, but the talk continues to linger so I am still paying attention to it. This way, if it ever does happen I’ll likely be one of the first to know about it. Such a bridge would be a major change for the lifestyle of many and the local real estate market overall as a whole new neighbourhood suddenly becomes easily accessible.
PS Am currently working on the mother of all posts to address certain assumptions you may (or may not) have regarding what is going on in the real estate market around here and how things work. ‘Stay tuned’ so to speak.
Gabriola Island could be only minutes from downtown Nanaimo — if the connection was by bridge rather than by ferry. Yet many Gabriola residents prefer to have a salty moat around their island, something that will help keep their little piece of paradise from turning into just another extension of the city.
The reluctance to have a connection and the high cost of building a fixed link have kept the water unspanned for all these years.
Now, the first hesitant step has been taken with the decision to determine the feasibility of a bridge. The island’s ferry advisory committee has agreed to study the bridge as one of several alternatives, along with having a private ferry service, adding a foot passenger-only ferry and fixing up the MV Quinsam, the B.C. Ferries vessel currently on the route.
B.C. Ferries has offered to contribute $5,000 to pay for a survey of Gabriola residents to find out how much interest they would have in a bridge instead of a ferry.
The Gabriola route has been identified, based on water depth and distance, as a prime candidate for a cost-effective bridge — but the policy of the Islands Trust Council has been firmly against a bridge to any island.
The cost of taking the 20-minute ferry ride is $8.15 return for an adult passenger and $20.65 for a vehicle. The sharp fare increases in recent years have renewed the call for a bridge, with many island residents saying they will no longer be able to live on Gabriola.
After the survey is done and the study is completed, Gabriola residents will be asked to vote on what should be done.
Let’s hope the referendum provides a clear decision from the voters, one that will settle the matter once and for all.
If the voters say they want a bridge — and the study shows that is a cost-effective alternative to ferry service — then the government should be prepared to give them one as quickly as possible.
Delaying construction once the demand has been identified would only antagonize the people who have been fighting a rather emotional battle.
If a bridge is built, the anti-bridge residents would have to learn to accept the increased traffic, or move to another island. It’s possible, of course, that they might come to appreciate the convenience of being able to get to and from Nanaimo on their own schedules.
If voters reject a bridge, they will lose some of their freedom to criticize ferry fares and schedules. Voting for continued ferry service would mean they accept the way things are, and the risk of higher fares.
They could no longer use the argument that the ferries should be part of the highway system, just as they are in the Interior. In the Interior, many ferries have been replaced over the years once it was determined that bridges made more sense.
Rising energy costs and concern about the environment might be enough to convince voters that a bridge is needed. No matter what, though, the decision will be theirs to make.