Langford resident Pat Clements is sharing his idea for an alternative highway route to the Malahat.
Raised in the Cowichan Valley, Clements served on the board for the Cowichan Valley Regional District and was the chairman in 1972. He has been talking about changing the Malahat for years, but now has time to spend on getting the word out about his idea.
“The important thing is I just want to get people involved,” he said. “This is something I’ve always had in the back of my mind for years.”
He details a 50-year plan in three stages, including moving the Swartz Bay ferry terminal and eventually a Vancouver Island and Lower Mainland connector.
“For the safety, the direction of this plan would be better for people on the Island,” he said. “To re-do the Malahat doesn’t do any good to the ferry terminal.”
The alternative highway proposal would see traffic from Greater Victoria directed along the Pat Bay Highway to the tip of the Saanich Peninsula, with a bridge across to Salt Spring Island. The highway would follow a bridge network from Salt Spring, back across the Sansum narrows, continuing west of Maple Bay and joining the Trans-Canada Highway south of the Crofton turn off.
He said the Pat Bay Highway needs to be improved to accommodate the increase in traffic that the ferries will bring in 20 years from now. He suggested making it three lanes in both directions with overpasses.
The benefits, he noted, could be reduced travel time from Nanaimo to Victoria and better driving conditions as it is at a lower elevation.
It would also eliminate the bottleneck in Duncan.
One of the stages of his plan includes moving the ferry terminal from Swartz Bay to Galiano Island, making the ferry ride about an hour long and eliminating ferries from having to use the inside channel.
“Eventually ferries will need to do a night run,” he said, noting people who live inside the channel would likely not be happy about loud ferry horns at 3 a.m.
Fifty years from now it is feasible to have a structure connect the mainland and the Island, he noted, pointing to the 55-kilometre bridge that recently opened in China, linking Hong Kong to the mainland.
Clements said he was told his proposal would be more expensive than re-doing the Malahat, but he figures, in the long run, it’s less expensive.
For more information on his proposal, people can visit his webpage at new-island-highway.ca.