Province to study a fixed link to the Sunshine Coast

Tunnel-and-bridge combos, like this one in Hvrode, are a common workaround in fjord-plagued Norway

Plus, Vancouver’s biggest retail deal of the year so far and Nordstrom’s overwhelming opening

Coastal link
For any resident of Powell River, it’s a familiar routine: a half-hour drive to the first of two ferries, then a 50 minute crossing to Earls Cove ($61.50 for a car and passenger). If you time it right, you can drive the length of Sunshine Coast and make it on the ferry to West Vancouver in two-and-a-half hours ($69 for a car and passenger). Said and done, it’s a four-and-a-half-hour trip, not counting traffic on the bridge into Vancouver. 

Enter a proposal, in the earliest of stages, to build a fixed link between the Sunshine Coast and the Lower Mainland. On Friday, the Ministry of Transportation announced that it will study the costs and benefits of a fixed link to the Sunshine Coast, the ferry-dependent region home to 45,000. From the get-go, the province is looking at a handful of options, from a lengthy highway link to the Sea-to-Sky through the remote coast mountains, to a series of bridges hopping the islands and fjords along the route south to Vancouver.  

The most likely crossing would be at Porteau Cove, a long a shallow band of the Howe Sound, according to Oddvin Vedø, a former economic development officer for the Sunshine Coast regional district and an avid fan of a fixed link. And he isn’t alone: both the district of West Vancouver and BC Ferries have been itching to move service out of space-constrained Horseshoe Bay for at least a decade. In July, the Sunshine Coast Regional District passed a resolution asking the province to look at a fixed link—a highway plus a bridge or tunnel. This is how the district mulled the benefits: a fixed link could boost tourism and real estate development, bring the obvious employment boon of a major construction project, and help mitigate the impact of the region’s transition from logging and sawmills to weekenders and retirees. The cost? A price tag that starts at $250 million. 

But before you start planning your drive to Sechelt, be warned that the government is in the earliest stages of the project timeline. For comparison, the province put out an RFP for a study for a fixed link to Vancouver Island via Gabriola last year, which is still in process. As for the link across Howe Sound, ministry has put out a request for proposals to hire a firm to undertake the study, which it expects to get underway later this year.

But for fun’s sake, here are a few renderings of a comparable fjord crossing project in Norway, via Sunshine Coast Connector:

Ready. Set. Shop.
What is it with Vancouver hyperventilating over new mall openingsExhibit A: the outlet mall opening that delayed flights. Exhibit B: the crowds, lines and general outpouring of excitement at the opening of a high-end American department store on Friday. If you want to see some photos from the preamble to the pandemonium—the official opening—click here. Oh, and Vancouver, here’s one for your ego: Nordstrom is calling the new shop its “first international flagship store.” Take that Calgary and Ottawa.

The choiciest of strip malls
A 6.8-acre strip mall in Richmond has sold for $102 million to an undisclosed company, in what may rank as the biggest retail sale of 2015 to date. The plaza, at the corner of No. 3 and Ackroyd Road, and less than a block from a Canada Line station, is assessed at $84 million. For comparison, Victoria’s downtown Bay Centre was sold to Manulife for around $100 million in February. (Vancouver Market)