District of Sechelt mayor John Henderson says improving the transportation infrastructure is one way to address growing concerns on the Sunshine Coast.
Henderson, along with other representatives from council, travelled to Victoria to bring several issues to life and says constructing a 29-kilometre, four-lane highway is just one of his proposed solutions for the area.
In a paper published by Henderson, he says the cost for the project would be an estimated $450 million, but the benefits of the highway would far exceed the cost of the highway. Those include public safety, predictable travel times and improved integration of various transit options.
Henderson says the highway will improve everyone’s quality of life.
“This is something that will help all of us, there is a lot of frustration and stress,” he says. “We need the highway as soon as we possibly can, we’ve been talking about this for 30 years. Now is the time to make it happen.”
The proposed highway route would begin at the top of the Langdale bypass and follow the BC Hydro Right of Way crossing Chapman Creek and north of the Sechelt Hospital through downtown Sechelt and on to Trout Lake.
Henderson says the proposed route would alleviate a lot of the traffic on the current main road, which runs into Gibsons and into the heart of a residential area, but more importantly, it would mitigate those in rush to catch the ferries.
“We get a huge amount of traffic when we’re racing to get to a ferry,” he says. “This would take a lot of the pressure off of the residential road and reduce the number of accidents.”
Funding for the highway must come from somewhere, and according to the District of Sechelt’s general fund overview, and summary of debt, there is still an outstanding $3.1 million of debt to be paid off.
Henderson says it is not unreasonable to approach the provincial or federal governments for additional funding, but he indicated some business owners on the coast would not mind paying the extra money if it meant they are able to have peace of mind in the region.
“There is a lot of cost that businesses suffer from using the current road,” Henderson says. “The business community has been very willing to pay a fee towards this, and I would look to the provincial, and federal government, to step up.
“We could also possibly see a referendum on this project too.”
He says if the highway was to be put in, it would not be out of the question to ask homeowners (or business owners) to pay an additional $50 to $100 a year extra.
The report indicates the project has the potential for the development of seven interchanges to support affordable housing, as well as industrial and institutional growth.