The Campaign for a Third Crossing Continues

Well two years and $250,000 later we finally have the Binnie report – and given its far too restrictive terms of reference, its conclusions are pretty much as expected.  Mr. Horgan’s government has served notice that it will not act on any of the options studied.

So now you, our members, supporters and others, are wondering whether this is the end of the line for our Third Crossing campaign.  It isn’t – we carry on.  We have hopes that new information will yet persuade the powers-that-be to do the right thing.

So we’re still at work.

The outcome of the Binnie study was a foregone conclusion – the terms of reference imposed on it by the previous government limited its mandate to weighing the costs and benefits of various fixed links to the Upper and Lower Sunshine Coasts, which have a combined population of something less than 50,000.

We were pretty sure none of the options would fly, because we know that no responsible government would spend billions of dollars so that fewer than 50,000 people can avoid  lining up for a ferry on their occasional trips to Vancouver.

So we tried –vigorously – to have Binnie’s terms of reference broadened to include the costs and benefits of those links to the whole province, surely the litmus test of any government that pretends to govern the whole province!  No luck.

Your Society showed the previous government how an overhaul of the operations of BC Ferries would produce enough savings to fund fixed links to both the Upper and Lower coasts.

To its credit, the Horgan government has recently undertaken a study of the ferries, covering “everything from soup to nuts,” as one official put it.  So with luck, they may yet come to the same conclusion.

Meanwhile, your Society is researching new possibilities that strengthen the case for both the Howe Sound and Third Crossing links, and will have more to say when our professional engineer advisors have thoroughly reviewed the report and several other matters that will shed further light on the whole topic of fixed links vs. ferries.

The Binnie study’s one ray of sunshine was its conclusion that building such links – especially the Third Crossing – is physically feasible.  We always believed that, but gaining professional (if grudging) confirmation of that is no small matter – many believed it wasn’t physically possible.

Would those links be expensive?  Of course they would!  We’ve always known that, too – but nowhere near as expensive as the big sums Binnie estimated, as we will prove as time goes on.  And as we’ve stated many times, in a province hemmed in by north-south mountain ranges, east-west highways have always had to cross many mountains, and innumerable waterways, so they’ve been expensive wherever they’re built.  But since when has that stopped us from building them?


The great outdoors east of Powell River just got greater.  On Saturday, Nov. 11, your Society, in partnership with the ATV community, travelled to a stream below Mount Alfred (well up the old D Branch logging road), met a helicopter flying a new steel foot- and ATV bridge and helped steer it into place, exactly where the B.O.M.B. and ATV squads built wooden bridges back in 2003-04. Those collapsed under the snowload in the winter of 2009-10.  Click here to watch the dramatic landing of the new bridge.  (But wait for further notice to try it out — the ramps still have to be put in place.)

Austrian Hikers Conquer Third Crossing

For the first time it’s ever been done at one go, a party of Austrian hikers (and one Swiss) has traversed the remote, difficult, and largely unknown section of the proposed third crossing route between the logging roads out of Squamish and those leading to Powell River.  It took them six days, between Sunday after-noon, July 2 and Saturday morning July 8.  Previous attempts – in 1970 and 2008 — were, as The Peak puts it, “either interrupted or incomplete.”  (Click here to see the full story, or read it in The Peak’s paper edition of July 19.) 

The hikers (15 in all), were weary but singing and still bursting with energy and enthusiasm when a wel- coming party from Powell River met them on the Goat Main, a few clicks beyond the Lookout.

Led by Fr. George Elsbett, son of Max and Gerlinde Elsbett of Wildwood, they were driven to the Elsbetts’ by Jim and Mike Massullo, Pasquale Porchetta, Max, and Richard Furness, representing the Third Crossing Society, which helped with arrangements.


Meantime, the case for the Third Crossing is as strong as ever, so our recent ‘Open Letter’ is now addressed to new Premier John Horgan.

 Twenty years ago, the Coquihalla Highway came into service.  It’s time for another, to open up some of B.C.’s most desirable real estate. 

Open Letter to Premier Horgan

A Coquihalla for the Coast

‘Mr. Premier, this can be your legacy’

It’s no secret that large swaths of prime coastal real estate are now hostage to our struggling coastal ferries operation.  The Third Crossing Society offers you the following three-pronged prescription for putting that land to revenue-producing use and growing our Province:

  1. A highway from Sea-to-sky Country to the Upper Sunshine Coast and by ferry to Vancouver Island.
  2. A bridge or bridges across Howe Sound between Highway 99 and the Lower Sunshine Coast.
  3. A major overhaul of our coastal ferries to generate savings that over ten years will pay for both.


Our campaign in times past has been perceived as of local interest only.  This is a narrow view unworthy of a Province like British Columbia, so we are taking the campaign provincial — to you personally.

Below, we show that the above three undertakings will, at one swoop, bring the coastal ferries problem to heel and pave the way for the benefits that connecting highways historically bring in their wake.  Together, they will:

  • Reduce congestion at Horseshoe Bay by eliminating the Langdale route.
  • Free the Queen of Surrey for extra runs in peak periods elsewhere;
  • Make the Earls Cove – Saltery Bay ferry available for peak runs elsewhere, because the new Upper Coast highway will absorb most of the traffic that today must use that ferry.  Together, the highway and the redeployment set the stage for a much smaller vessel on that run.
  • Convert the Comox – Powell River route to one that serves a vast area instead of a very limited one (Powell River), and makes money instead of losing it.
  • Consolidate all Nanaimo’s ferry service in the Duke Point-Tsawassen route and thus reduce current losses on the existing runs during low season.
  • Permit deactivation of two underutilized Queen-class vessels on the Nanaimo runs in low season, and their reactivation in peak season and on holiday weekends.
  • Eliminate all runs now using Horseshoe Bay except Bowen Island.
  • Make prime real estate now sunk under the terminals at Langdale and Departure Bay (and most of Horseshoe Bay), available for re-development and revenue-generating purposes.

As this was written, the cost of the two proposed “fixed links” was the subject of what engineers call an “Order of Magnitude” study.  That study is now complete and we await its release. Our engineering experts are standing by to analyze and comment on what will be a large but far from realistic estimate.

The point we wish to make now — and we expect the experts will confirm — is that whatever the realistic estimate may be, most if not all of the costs will be offset by (a) savings at BC Ferries, (b) cost recoveries from redundant assets, and (c) road tolls and other economies

Introducing an automated reservation system throughout the fleet will enable flex-pricing, which will pull demand from peak sailing times to less busy ones, and permit the use of smaller vessels in the long low season.  Adjustments to the frequency of sailings can be made in the shoulder seasons, and allow extra vessels to be thoroughly serviced and ready for reactivation come the busy times.

Increased ferry efficiencies will provide major ferry economiesreduced subsidiesreduced pressure to raise fares and reduced service failures in peak periods.

Obstacles to travel to our coastal communities will diminish and regional economies will recover.

Metro’s congestion misery and infrastructure cost pressures will ease.

Accessibility from most interior cities to our Pacific coast will expand without adding to Metro Vancouver’s traffic jams.

A new vision and expansion of our coastal presence will be a major legacy for the Province and the administration that has the courage to make it happen.

We’ve done substantial research to come to the above conclusions.  Additional details at

Mr. Premier, the time for action has come.


The Third Crossing Society

July 15, 2017


We’ve done our homework: Our reference library directs you to more than forty studies that reinforce our campaign for the connecting roads.  You can read more about the ferries, about tunnels and a variety of other factors by   clicking here.

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We would also like to acknowledge our many supporters who wish to remain anonymous.


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