For longer than anyone can remember, the possibility of building a connecting road between coastal Highway 101 and Highway 99 at Squamish has been talked about.  Below is a brief rundown of related highway building, and the work that’s been done in recent years to promote a new one: a third crossing of the coastal mountains.

1959:            Highway 99, the “Sea-to-Sky,” is pushed north to Squamish.

1960-69:     Logging road networks are pushed into the back country from Powell River and Squamish.

1970:      The Powell River Chamber of Commerce, “tired of boosting a town that can only be reached from the sea,” sponsors The Dogwood Trek, in which a party of young men from Powell River and Squamish, starting from the end of the logging road on the Squamish side, attempted to blaze a trail through the wilderness around the end of Jervis Inlet and reach a similar road on the Powell River side.  Time ran out, one of the boys was injured, and they got only as far as Jervis Inlet, although they did raise public awareness that a road was possible.  The story of their journey was published in Beautiful BC Magazine in the summer of that year.  To read it and view the photographs, click here.

1979:       The Sea-to-Sky Highway is extended north past Garibaldi Park and Whistler to Pemberton.  The road between Duffey Lake and Lillooet is upgraded to a hard-surface highway.

1994:          The late Peter Hall, a cartographer and member of our Board of Directors, maps a possible route for a Squamish to Powell River highway.

1999:         Bob Astrope, a longtime champion of the road, accompanies a television crew on a helicopter flight over the terrain (video available).  He can see that a road is feasible.

2003:         A co-ordinating group, forerunner of the Third Crossing Society, is formed.  The Accurate Location Surveys firm (ALS), unaware of Peter Hall’s earlier work, does reconnaissance work  that confirms Hall’s route.  ALS proposes a ground-proofing survey, at an estimated cost of $100,000, but funds are not available.

2005:        Drawing on considerable field work, ALS uses flight simulator graphics to produce an end-to-end “virtual flyover” of the route.  Public meetings are held in Powell River (June 3) and Squamish (October 29).  The flyover is shown to large audiences at these meetings to gauge public support, and there is enthusiasm in both places.  However, the timing is unfortunate: the province’s infrastructure capital has been committed to preparations for the 2010 Olympics: improvements to the SkyTrain public transit system, the Sea-to-Sky Highway and other major highway construction projects in and around Vancouver.

2006:        The Third Crossing Society is incorporated under the laws of British Columbia.

2007:        Presentation made to the Island Coastal Economic Trust.

2008:       A hiking expedition to Casement Mountain re-traces the Dogwood Trek’s route of  1970.

2009:       Proposed road is suggested to the Minister of Transportation in a report from the South Coast/Mountain Regional Transportation Advisory Committee.

2011-12:        Focusing on broadening its membership, the Society signs 150 members, and shows the virtual flyover to a group of two dozen interested people at the Society’s annual general meeting.  For reasons stated, and also due to population limitations, perceived high costs and lack of an overall plan, nothing has materialized.  Perhaps, too, it was because the project being promoted was too narrow, too focused on two relatively small communities, Powell River and Squamish.

2012:       To demonstrate public support for the road, the Society begins soliciting letters of support in principle from leadership groups.  By late 2016, it had received 20: ten on Vancouver Island, six in Powell River, two on the Sea-to-Sky and two others, stretching all the way to the Albert border.

2013:       Initial trailblazing begins.  Planning for 2014 expeditions begins in earnest.  Vancouver is identified as one of the most expensive cities in the world.  Implications for population growth in Powell River and other coastal areas are real, especially as the baby boom generation approaches retirement age.  The boomers born in 1947 began turning 65 in 2013.  Many of them own extremely high priced real estate.  We see this as a major motivator to market newly accessible coastal areas as retirement communities. A residence in the Lower Mainland may easily sell for $500,000, and in Toronto $1,000,000.  Housing in Powell River likely to be attractive to a retired couple might cost $250,000 to $500,000, thus permitting investment of $250,000 to $500,000 to generate enhanced retirement income.

2014:       Continuing skepticism regarding the feasibility of the road causes the Board to conclude that it must attempt to correct falsehoods regarding the terrain and make a stronger case.  Wholesale revisions to the website and organizational changes are approved.  Ever-increasing ferry fares and reduced service cause the public to refocus on the road as an alternative.  The Third Crossing Society theorizes that an important benefit of the proposed road may accrue to the economics of BC Ferries.  High level contact is established with BC Ferries and evaluation of this theory begins.

September 30 2014:   Third Crossing concept promoted in conversation with Minister Todd Stone at Powell River Chamber of Commerce luncheon.

October 7 2014:   Follow-up letter filed with Minister Stone requesting a meeting.

November 4, 2014:   Ashok Bhatti, District Manager of Transportation – Lower Mainland, requests a date for that meeting.

December 11, 2014:   Society files its “Case for a Third Crossing” with BC On The Move, which is developing a ten-year infrastructure plan.

January 28 2015:   Board of Directors meets with Mr. Bhatti and Graeme Schimpf, Operations Manager, Howe Sound and Sunshine Coast, to discuss how their office weighs the merits of road proposals.

September 18, 2015:   Minister announces a consultant will be hired to study the costs and benefits of “some form of highway link between the Sunshine Coast and Metro Vancouver, including options ranging from a highway link around Jervis Inlet, to direct bridge connections along the coast.”