If you can’t build across, sail across

Image via www.88844ferry.com/
Image via www.88844ferry.com/

Ferry service proposed in place of Q2Q bridge

By Aaron Guillen, Staff Reporter

Once boasted as “an iconic crossing over the magnificent Fraser River,” it seems as though the Queensborough to the Quay (Q2Q) bridge will likely never be built. With a $39.1 million estimate from SNC-Lavalin, the construction company dedicated to the project, city officials have had to back out due to the price tag being well above the budget. With only $6.8 million in available allocated funds, there seems to be no way to bridge the financial gap.

“While the city has been successful in obtaining modest TransLink grants in 2015 and 2016 for Q2Q, as well as a small donation from a private developer totaling approximately $500,000, less than one-third of the funding necessary for Q2Q has been identified in existing budgets, which includes allocated development assistance compensation (DAC) funding from the casino,” stated a recent city staff report.

Though plans seemed concrete at the beginning of the year, fault lines became apparent back in April as city officials were struggling to find the support from the Council of Marine Carriers.

“We are not against bridges, per se, but the north arm of the river is our Trans-Canada Highway for the tugboat industry between New Westminster and the Strait of Georgia,” Captain Phil Nelson, President of the Council of Marine Carriers, pointed out to the New West Record in April.

“There’s an awful lot of traffic through there. Every time we have a new bridge put into place, it’s another obstruction our people have to negotiate, and potentially another accident. Adding a pedestrian bridge at the end of the rail bridge […] is just increasing the risk that there’s going to be with that structure. It’s difficult to navigate through there as it is, without adding another bridge into the mix.”

In a determined effort to bring both sides of the river together, a ferry service has floated its way to the top of their solution list. In a close second comes the potential offer for a four-metre wide pathway crossing if the current railroad bridge is replaced. Over the next few months, city council will take a deeper look into operation costs for a trial ferry service, in hopes the project will be successful. If so, council will record various statistics of passengers and charge a minimal crossing charge for six months.

“Ferry services are seen as the most likely alternative within the resources available to the city in the near term, and the exploration of a trial ferry service would allow the city to determine the demand by pedestrians and cyclists for a crossing in this area for recreation, utilitarian, and community purposes,” the report said.