VICTORIA — After decades of studies, the NDP has green-lit a vehicle bridge that will connect downtown Vancouver with Gabriola Island.

The 43-km steel span bridge will connect both sides directly in protected parkland.

Travellers who are destined for Nanaimo will need to drive the length of Gabriola Island, then take the existing small ferry to the Harbour City to complete their voyage.

The route will start in Drumbeg Provincial Park on Gabriola Island, tunnel under the Saturnina and Flat Top Islands, then resurface for the remainder of the route. The other side will arrive on Third Beach in Stanley Park.

Artists rendition of new Vancouver-to-Gabriola bridge

“We expect no more than 120 hectares of protected parkland will need to be destroyed in order to complete this long-needed project,” B.C. premier John Horgan announced in a Thursday afternoon news conference. “This is an important step forward for Vancouver Island residents.”

The new bridge is expected to bring more than 42,000 vehicles a day to Gabriola Island.

When asked about the new plans, Gabriola resident Lúcio Correia dos Santos said “I’m sorry, what?! They’re doing what?!”

Premier Horgan said the government would have preferred to make the span reach to Nanaimo harbour but the revenue, expected from the new Speculation and Vacancy Tax, has not come in at projected levels.

A BC Ferry spokesperson said the company has no plans to increase service on the small Gabriola-to-Nanaimo route. They say to expect wait times of three to four days to make the crossing to Nanaimo.

Really? That’s odd…