I believe the use of Nelson and Anvil islands for fixed links across Jervis Inlet [“Quick Peak: Fixed link input sought,” October 19] and Howe Sound provide the best solution to our poor transport services along the Upper and Lower Sunshine coasts. Data from the fixed-link study team helped form this belief.
It is obvious, given the $3.5 to $4.5-billion fixed-link costs, we need to be innovative about funding to move ahead. Poor community economic states are directly related to the failure of our fishing and logging industries some three decades ago. Since that time, communities along the Fraser valley that are the same distance to Vancouver as us have forged ahead both socially and economically. We need a transport service that costs and has similar service levels as they do to become economically sustainable. At the very most it should cost no more than $10 to drive a car or take a bus over either of the fixed links.
This can be achieved by following the example of a Hong Kong transit company that has a real estate division that builds residential and commercial property alongside its right of way. Money from the sale or rental of those properties is used to offset its transit costs. It is ranked as one of the best transit systems in the world.
Our needs can be met by using Crown land along the new route for Highway 101 to enable us to immediately afford both fixed links. The north shore of Howe Sound and Nelson Island can be sites for new communities, so existing lifestyles in our communities will not be compromised by new construction. Participants in the suggested $400-billion federal economic development fund will be interested in our $3.5 to $4.5-billion infrastructure development project.
An integrated focus group is best to pressure our provincial government to approve this strategy. Time is short. Catalyst, our biggest employer, is struggling to survive. It takes up to five years from the date a go-ahead is given to build each bridge. Hundreds of millions of dollars are saved by building them in sequence.
It took several years of effort to get the fixed-link study approved. The team gave us technical and cost data. We have a way forward. Low cost money is available. Now we need action.