The SCH linking Campbell River with West Vancouver travelling over upgraded roads (yellow dots), new highways (blue lines) and 5 new bridges [click map for hi-resolution image]
A new 300 km Sunshine Coast Highway linking Campbell River to West Vancouver would take 2 hours 30 minutes to traverse travelling at 120 k.p.h. (dry road posted speed limit) or about the same time it takes to ride the ferry between Vancouver and Victoria. Built on upgraded local roads, new highway segments and 5 new cable suspension bridges the SCH promises to do more than just ferry cars and trucks around the Salish Sea. It can be designed to trigger economic development, end the affordable housing crisis in British Columbia, carry fibre optics to remote locations, create an electric rail corridor, modernize transportation and build sustainable urbanism.
1. FIVE NEW BRIDGES
- Jarvis Inlet Bridge 2.3 km
- Desolation Sound Bridge 2.4 km
- Cortes Island Bridges 1.0 and 1.8 km
- Surge Narrows Bridge 0.3 km
- Quadra Island Bridge 0.75 km
Completing the SCH would require building five new bridges. The two longest bridges would be at the mouth of the Jarvis Inlet (2.3 km length) and on Desolation Sound linking the mainland to Cortes Island (2.4 km).
2. SUSTAINABLE TRANSPORTATION
The Sunshine Coast Highway (SCH) would be fitted to support travel with electric cars (EVs) posting charging stations at 50 km intervals. We foresee that travel costs and the carbon footprint of the SCH will be greatly reduced when EVs and other renewable, non-carbon fuel sources come on stream. In the meantime, located on the edge of the wilderness, the bio mass of the coastal forest will keep GHG release in check.
The Sunshine Coast Highway right of way should be designed to support the addition of electric rail service at a later date. Joined to the E&N railway on Vancouver Island, and the Whistler Rocky Mountaineer on Howe Sound, modern electric rail can provide additional GHG-free capacity circumnavigating the edges of the Salish Sea. One line of rail can carry the equivalent of 11 to 16 highway lanes.
3. SUSTAINABLE URBANISM
New townsites along the SCH would have a footprint designed to support walking, with neighborhoods not more than 400m or 1/4 mile in diameter. Buildings would be limited to 2 and 3 stories in height, with all above grade construction made of renewable materials including coastal timber.
4. AFFORDABLE HOUSING, ENERGY SELF-RELIANCE
The new towns on the SCH would sell single family homes on ¼ acre lots for $300,000 including an EV in the driveway and a solar panel on the roof. Using shelf-ready components roof mounted solar panels new SCH construction would be 40% electric energy self-sufficient. Homeowners can use that energy to reduce their electrical bills; sell it back to the utility in two-way smart connections; or run their EVs on free fuel. The combination of local energy collection and walkable towns can return a sizeable dividend to every family.
New townsites located along the Sunshine Coast Highway would house up to 5,000 residents each. Spaced 8 km or 5 miles apart, the new capacity for population growth on the Sunshine Coast would approach 150,000 new residents. That population would be additional to new residents locating in municipalities and towns all around the edges of the Salish Sea from Nanaimo to Lions Bay.
The bottleneck of the Fraser Valley has contributed to sky-high pricing in local housing. The influx of new housing in the local markets would keep home prices affordable along the SCH and possibly beyond.
5. POWER TRANSMISSON AND TELECOMMUNICATIONS
The SCH would bring fibre optics to local communities while following power lines from hydro-electric generation sites whenever possible.
6. FOUR DECOMMISSIONED FERRY SERVICES
Savings from ferry operations can offset maintenance costs on the Sunshine Coast Highway. The SCH would create savings by making several ferry services obsolete:
- Campbell River – Quadra Island
- Quadra Island – Cortes Island
- Courtney – Powell River
- Langdale – Horseshoe Bay
7. ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT
Redirecting growth pressures from the Lower Mainland to the Sunshine Coast can create an economic engine generating employment and realizing new opportunities for investment and growth for generations to come.
Opportunities in construction, commerce and human services will follow the construction of the SCH. Providing a fixed-link between Vancouver Island, the Sunshine Coast, and the Lower Mainland will not just lower transportation costs for consumer goods. It will create a new regional economy grounded on the Salish Sea.
8. A LASTING LEGACY
The SCH legacy will be building a model of sustainable urbanism complete with the responsible management of its pristine natural ecosystems.
SCH townsites and workplaces will show us how to build in concert with nature supporting higher levels of social functioning and balanced economic growth.