Third Crossing Town Hall Meeting

imageJust a reminder – if you are interested in learning more about the Third Crossing, tonight is the night, starting at 7:00 pm at the Evergreen Theatre, PR Recreation Complex.

The case for a road link between the Upper Sunshine Coast and the outside world is well known but anyone unfamiliar with it, or who needs to brush up on it, click here for the details. The following is from Third Crossing Society.

The most important event of this fall was Transportation Minister Todd Stone’s announcement that his ministry would hire a consultant to look into the costs and benefits of building a highway (and, or bridges) between the Sunshine Coast and Metro Vancouver. One of the big benefits would be the elimination of at least one ferry route, and perhaps others.

The government has heard from stakeholders up and down the coast that “highway access is important for attracting tourism and investment,” said the Minister, so “over the coming months, we’ll look at the opportunities available and see how the costs and benefits stack up against the existing transportation options.”

The Minister saw those opportunities ranging from a highway link around Jervis Inlet (the Third Crossing), to direct bridge connections along the coast, to a highway that either bridges or goes around Howe Sound.

West Vancouver – Sea to Sky MLA Jordan Sturdy is to meet with local governments and community leaders to further gauge community interest in these options.

“While there are many who will embrace a more non-stop connection to Metro Vancouver, there are others who won’t want to see such a change,” Sturdy warned. “As the costs and benefits of various links are assessed, it is important to hear first-hand how communities feel about the possibilities.”

The Lower Sunshine options include bridging Howe Sound directly from Gibsons, or building a highway up its west side, north from Port Mellon, that either crosses the Sound via a pair of bridges at Anvil Island, or goes all the way around the end at Squamish, to Highway 99.

To the north, on the Upper Sunshine Coast, is the Third Crossing proposal.

Here’s a preview of what we think the consultant will find:

  1. Any of the Lower Sunshine Coast options will allow BC Ferries to eliminate the money-losing Langdale to Horseshoe Bay ferry run.
  2. Building the Third Crossing will make it possible to deep-six another losing run, Saltery Bay to Earls Cove.
  3. The Ferries corp. (and the government) win on a third run if the Third Crossing is built, because that would allow the Comox ferry (another money-loser) to absorb some of the traffic between Vancouver Island and the mainland that is now forced to use the main terminals at Departure Bay in Nanaimo and Horseshoe Bay. This would have the dual benefits of putting the Comox route on a profitable footing, and ease congestion at the main crossings further south.

In the fiscal year ended March 2015, those three runs – Langdale, Saltery Bay and Comox – ran at a combined deficit of $26 million – Langdale just under $4 million, Saltery Bay and Comox, just over $11 million each. For details, click here.

The Third Crossing Society thus supports whichever option the government deems appropriate for the Lower Sunshine Coast, because any of them would eliminate the Langdale ferry. We would only suggest that if the logic is valid for the Lower Coast, it should also be valid for the Upper, where one money-losing ferry, Saltery Bay, could be eliminated and another – the Comox to Powell River – made profitable. For those reasons and others even more compelling the Third crossing should also be undertaken.

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