British Columbia

Public consultation to start for potential link between Sunshine Coast and Lower Mainland

After years of the idea being floated, consultation on a potential fixed link between the Sunshine Coast and the Lower Mainland will begin in earnest this month.

Open houses to be held throughout region from Oct. 18 to 27

Residents are asked to provide feedback for a potential link connecting the Sunshine Coast and the Lower Mainland, which are separated by Howe Sound (Ken McMillan/Flickr)

After years of the idea being floated, consultation on a potential fixed link between the Sunshine Coast and the Lower Mainland will begin in earnest this month.

The provincial government announced Thursday that open houses will be held from Oct. 18 to 27 in Gibsons, Powell River, Sechelt, Squamish and West Vancouver. An online feedback form will also be made available on Oct. 18. 

"I know many Sunshine Coast and Sea-to-Sky residents have been eager to provide input," said West Vancouver-Sea-to-Sky MLA Jordan Sturdy in a statement.

"We received significant feedback from local governments and First Nations in meetings over the summer and I'm extremely interested in what residents have to say about the practicality of a potential future connection between the Sunshine Coast and the Lower Mainland."

A road link between the Sunshine Coast, which is only accessible by ferry or plane, and the Lower Mainland has been discussed off and on for decades.

But last year the provincial government began studying the feasibility of a link, commissioning civil engineering firm R.F. Binnie to look at possibilities. Their report is expected later this year. 

"We've heard from stakeholders from Powell River to the Sunshine Coast that highway access is important for attracting tourism and investment," said Transportation Minister Todd Stone, though he cautioned that any project could take a decade to complete and would be "a very, very significant infrastructure project."

No direct route has been specified yet, although the idea of a link going near Bowen Island, Gambier Island, Porteau Cove or going around Howe Sound via Squamish have all been mentioned.

The dates for the open houses are as follows:

  • Squamish: Oct. 18, Squamish Valley Golf Club, 4 p.m.

  • West Vancouver: Oct. 20, Gleneagles Community Centre, 4 p.m.

  • Powell River: Oct. 25, Powell River Town Centre Hotel, 4 p.m.

  • Sechelt: Oct. 26, 4 p.m., Seaside Centre,

  • Gibsons: Oct. 27, 10 a.m., Gibsons Garden Hotel