Gabriola bridge defies Trust Act

Despite protests by Islands Trust and many residents, the idea of building a bridge to Gabriola Island from Vancouver Island is not yet dead in the water.

A ‘Do you want the bridge?’ question may be part of a public survey on the island possibly by the end of March.

Opponents say a bridge would encourage the urbanization of Gabriola, tarnishing the Islands Trust objective to ‘preserve and protect’ the Gulf Islands.

The controversy surfaced last fall when the Gabriola Ferry Advisory Committee (GFAC) asked whether Vancouver Island University staff and students might be prepared to conduct a transportation survey on Gabriola.

This drew attention to the fact the GFAC is accountable to BC Ferries, not to the Gabriola community. And particularly not to the Trust and its official community plans for Gabriola and Mudge Islands which outlaw a bridge link.

At the time, Trustee Sheila Malcolmson (now Islands Trust Chair) pointed out that the GFAC terms of reference oblige its members to be “responsible for representing the policies of their official community plan in the discussion of local ferry service issues.”

In response to the initiative for the survey Gabriola’s Local Trust Committee proposed setting up an island transportation committee. Its terms of reference could be ready for review in the next few weeks.

This first report appeared in the spring 2009 GIA newsletter.