British Columbia

Province scraps plan for fixed link to Sunshine Coast

The NDP government will not be building a fixed link to the Sunshine Coast after a two-year feasibility study determined construction poses too many technical and financial challenges.

Study shows connecting Sunshine Coast to Lower Mainland by bridge or road too costly and complicated

The B.C. government will not move forward with a plan to link the Sunshine Coast with the Lower Mainland after a two-year feasibility study that considered bridge and highway options. (Jonathan Hayward/The Canadian Press)

Building a bridge or road link to British Columbia's Sunshine Coast has too many technical and financial hurdles, so the provincial government says it's giving up on the idea.

The former Liberal government launched a feasibility study on the idea of a fixed link in November 2015.

The NDP government has released a report with the announcement that it wouldn't be proceeding with the plan.

The study narrowed its investigation to two bridge links and two road crossings, each costing an estimated $2.1 billion to $4.4 billion.

The report says all of the options presented serious challenges, including rocky inclines, mountain passes and deep water channels.

The government also says in a news release that none of the links would completely eliminate the need for a ferry crossing, which currently services communities on the Sunshine Coast.

Squamish mayor unsurprised

Squamish Mayor Patricia Heintzman, said she is not surprised by the decision.

"None of the proposed links solved all of the issues," said Heintzman. "The investment doesn't make sense because we would still need the ferries."

Heintzman was concerned that if the project had gone ahead, it would have resulted in land speculation and opened up wilderness areas to development.

Building a road from Squamish to the Sunshine Coast would be expensive, Heintzman said, adding she worried the province would sell off land in the area to justify that expense.

Disappointment in Sechelt

On the Sunshine Coast, Sechelt Mayor Bruce Milne, said some members of his community will be disappointed by the news.

"Those people are the ones who are looking for greater economic development and for stronger and quicker social ties with friends and family in the Lower Mainland," said Milne.

He said there are others who will take the news in stride, knowing a fixed link is not a viable option when the costs and other challenges are considered.

Milne said his local government will now focus attention on the ferry system, urging improved ferry links to the Lower Mainland.

With files from The Canadian Press