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B.C. Ferries ignores injunction, continues expansion

WEST VANCOUVER, B.C. - Work on B.C. Ferries' Horseshoe Bay expansion project is going full-steam ahead, despite a court injunction filed by an angry group of local parents.The B.C. Supreme Court has b...

KEEP ON ROLLING: The BCTA says they support the upgrades to the terminal.
KEEP ON ROLLING: The BCTA says they support the upgrades to the terminal.

WEST VANCOUVER, B.C. – Work on B.C. Ferries’ Horseshoe Bay expansion project is going full-steam ahead, despite a court injunction filed by an angry group of local parents.

The B.C. Supreme Court has been listening to environmental concerns raised by the Gleneagles Concerned Parents Committee (GCPC), who say the expansion is too close to Gleneagles Elementary School. The $30-million project includes expanding the parking facilities, building a new ticketing/administration office and expanding holding lanes which will double the size of the holding compound.

The project will address safety concerns and alleviate traffic congestion which causes many headaches for truck drivers. Mat Wilcox is one of the parents who are trying to put an end to the project.

“They’re building 12 lanes into Horseshoe Bay to get to the ferries, 12 lanes that aren’t there right now,” says Wilcox. “The issue that the parents have is that they’re building these lanes right next to the Gleneagles school, so we’re going to have 1,200 to 1,300 idling cars and trucks 100 feet away.”

Wilcox says the environmental impact of the project will be severe.

“Horseshoe Bay is like a bowl,” explains Wilcox. “A lot of truckers will understand this – when they drive down it’s like going down into a small bowl – with these cars and trucks idling there, the pollution will sit in Horseshoe Bay.”

Deborah Dykes, communications coordinator with B.C. Ferries, says that the proposed expansion will improve the service at the terminal and increase safety.

“The purpose of the project is to provide a more safe and more convenient operation,” explains Dykes. “With the truckers that come to Horseshoe Bay, often the traffic is backed up on the upper-level highway because we don’t have enough room inside our holding compound. What this means is that drivers are parked on the shoulder of the highway for a portion, so they have to inch along and the drivers have to keep their engines running.”

The backups also make it difficult for truck drivers with reservations to get to the front of the crowd to reach their ferries.

The British Columbia Trucking Association (BCTA) says it wants to see the work continue.

“We’ve supported the expansion at Horseshoe Bay primarily for safety reasons,” says Louise Yako, BCTA director of policy and communications. “My understanding from B.C. Ferries is that the new complex will allow them to organize traffic better and certainly get it off the highway so it’s not an impediment.”

Yako is concerned that if the GCPC is successful in halting the project, then the situation will only get worse for truckers.

“It would force those trucks to have to continue to deal with the high volumes of traffic,” says Yako.

But the opposition movement is gaining steam, and the B.C. Liberals have jumped on board in asking for the project to be put on hold until more environmental assessments have been completed.

“The government has a habit of short-cutting these things when they want to get a project done and we want to make sure they go through all the appropriate channels from the environmental view to getting the committee on side,” says B.C. transportation and highways critic Doug Symons.

He adds that a tremendous amount of money will go to waste if the project is cancelled, since work is continuing in the meantime.

“The government has a habit of doing things in that way, and gambling. Sometimes it pays and sometimes it doesn’t but I don’t think that’s the right way to go,” says Symons. In the meantime, however, work carries on as planned and B.C. Ferries hopes to complete the expansion by the end of 2002.

“We have been in court several times and the judge has not asked us to stop in the meantime,” says Dykes. “Had a judge said ‘Please don’t work during the talks,’ then we would have stopped but we were not asked to stop so we will carry on.” n

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