Addicted to novelty since 2001

Our Visit to Eagle Ridge Bluffs

Last Friday, Todd and I visited the site of the Eagle Ridge Bluffs protest. If you’re not familiar with the action, here’s a blurb from the protesters’ website:

The BC Government, including the Ministry of Transportation, has fed a great deal of misinformation to the people of BC, Canada and the world about the impact to the environment, recreation and visual values, the cost and the safety of a 2.4km overland highway route versus a 1.4 km four lane divided tunnel. Adding a third lane to the existing 3 km of highway, from Lions Bay to Sunset Beach, is also a very viable, low-impact option, which would likely save the taxpayer over 100 million dollars.

Being the consummate professional photographer, my camera’s battery crapped out after exactly two photos. No problem, I’ve got a backup! It crapped out immediately as well. Happily, Todd brought his camera, and snapped a bunch of photos. My favourite is the one of me and a big hoe.

We had a brief chat with Betty Krawczyk, who’s a pretty famous local environmentalist. She’s got a blog, and has written some books. Todd got a photo.

Ultimately, I didn’t really get much new information while we visited. We snooped around a bit, took some photos, and that was about it.

The protesters’ website is very detailed, but is a little light on stated sources. For example, they claim “The long-term cost and benefits of a properly designed tunnel make its cost comparable to that of the planned 4-lane highway route”, but don’t actually offer a comparison. They never indicate how much more a tunnel would cost up front. According to the Globe and Mail, a tunnel would cost $75 million more.

Another fact that the protectors are fast and loose on is the actual area affected by the overland highway. We’re talking about a pretty small region here: the planned highway extension will be 2.4 km, while the proposed tunnel will be 1.4 km. You can see some before and after photos from the protectors’ site.

I’ve been unable to find a map, but let’s say we’re talking about 9 square kilometres. A tunnel would cost an additional $8.3 million per kilometre. That’s pretty rich for a chunk of land overlooking the highway.

7 Responses to “Our Visit to Eagle Ridge Bluffs”

  1. Rob_

    But isn’t the 75 million for a 4 lane divided tunnel?

    What about a two lane one way tunnel and using the existing highway for two lanes the other way? Isn’t this what was originally recommended?

    But the best option would be just to forget highway expansion all together. After all, parts of the sea-to-sky highway are still going to be two or three lanes.

  2. Paul

    It doesn’t appear from the photos or your write-up that you walked into the arbutus grove on the bluffs or over to the Larsen Creek wetlands. If that is the case, your comment “That’s pretty rich for a chunk of land overlooking the highway” is unresearched and unfair to those who see much more value there. It you did take a walk up there, I am surprised by the comment.

  3. Pam

    Having trouble sympathizing with the poor oppressed residents of West Van.

    As much as the folks on the shore would love for another highway to be built through East Van, unfortunately it just can’t be done in this case. ;)

  4. Chris

    When Dennis Perry first started making noise about the bluffs (his home will be close to the new hwy from what I hear), The District of West Vancouver had plans on their website to build a golf course and a bunch of luxury homes on the bluffs. Of course these plans quickly removed from the district’s website, and is now being called “A Campbell Government Mistruth”.

  5. Gordon David

    I think you’re forgetting the bigger issue here.

    The olympics will already be a losing proposition. It will provide jobs for a short period of time and the taxpayers will have to pay off the debt over many generations. I cite places I have visited: Sydney, Salt Lake City, Montreal…

    …the taxpayers just finished paying off the Olympic Stadium just recently. The Olympics were in 1976.

    But the thing that also isn’t coming across in your comment is that the protestors AREN’T against the Olympics.

    All they want is to protect their forest. And these people are the wage slave class like the rest of us…

    The habitat that could be destroyed and has already been partially destroyed won’t be coming back and the wildlife and trees (the major oxygen producer on the earth) will likely never recover.

    The area proposed to be destroyed is actually being destroyed not so much for the highway, but for the property development.

    The other issue is that the land is under dispute in an Indian Land Claim. When the case is eventually settled, the additional financial cost will be likely again borne by the taxpayer.

    The short-term gain that you support surely shows that you have no children or at least no regard for their future.

    I sure hope you do some more soul-searching and recant your views…

  6. Ev

    Seeing the great construction job that has been done on the twinned stretch of highway from Lions Bay south, it seems a shame to build either the tunnel or the overland route, particularly when there is a seemingly suitable highway which is already in place.

    I have always had a feeling of regret seeing a new road going in, be it for oil/gas development, forestry, or real estate development. This is because such roads, once built, are almost never removed, and open up access to new areas to people and their vehicles. My first thought about the overland route is that it will be a perfect vehicle for developers to access new areas for development higher up on Cypress Mountain. As if the current developments, which resemble mammoth [permanent] clearcuts, and can be seen from Vancouver, are not ugly enough!

    At one point when the protest was going on, I read a story in the Vancouver Sun (or perhaps saw it on the tv news) that British Properties has a plan to develop Eagle Ridge Bluffs with a 1,200 home community. Naturally, it will be accessed by this overland route. Hearing that, it was apparent the tunnel was never going to happen from the start regardless of public process, environmental concerns, and relative cost of tunnel/overland. You’ve gotta love the fact that taxpayers across BC and Canada are funding access to a high end development that only a few will be able to afford, so that a private interest can profit from developing land which it did not even pay for in the first place! Surprisingly this angle received little media attention and even the protestors did not seem to raise it as an issue, which is odd because significant developments up there would have hit a chord with a much larger segment of the population.

    I was not able to find the map online tonite which shows the land owned by British Properties. However, if you are able to find it, it is absolutely astounding how much of Cypress they own and how high up the mountain their ownership goes. I knew if was a lot, but not this much! Presumably British Properties will eventually try to develop as much of this land as possible, where it is physically possible to build houses.

    And it’s a shame, that so much wilderness may eventually be lost which is at present such a great treasure to have so close to the city. I would like to think that this was what the protestors were standing up for, but somehow I think it is a case of NIMBY. Either way, they were too disorganized and made too little noise, far too late. I hope they enjoy their future neighbours.

    Anyone else hear more about this?

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