A quick look around the high terraces of environmental consciousness on West Vancouver's Eagleridge Bluffs will reveal a "Who's Who" of the richest community in Canada. What's missing from this "well-heeled" protest is a good optometrist, to help correct the colossal myopia with which this group is afflicted.
According to the Coalition to Save Eagleridge Bluffs, the area is home to a sensitive arbutus ecosystem and the recently discovered habitat of the rare, red-legged frog. We are also told the rocky outcrop of the Bluffs must be protected, simply because of its unique beauty.
But the Sea to Sky Highway makeover has already dramatically altered rock faces, trails and mini-ecosystems from Lions Bay to Whistler, with more to come. Presumably, this evisceration is the geological equivalent of chopped liver. No signs of protest from the concerned tent dwelling citizens of WestVancouver here.
Meanwhile, while this demonstration attempts to gain converts, construction cranes busily ply their trade to bring more big-buck properties onto the market as West Van's boundaries encroach further up the mountainside. No protesters there. No signs of endangered amphibians or chainsaw-shy arbutus trees.
The protesters are convinced that the noise and pollution, associated with the new highway, will "severely impede the wilderness experience" of local hikers. In truth, West Vancouver is endowed with an unrivalled trail network reaching well beyond the North Shore mountains.
The folks manning the barricades should open their eyes to the needs of the rest of the corridor. A large number of commuters in Squamish spend more than two hours in transit daily, and have considerably less time for the so-called "wilderness experience" that the coalition takes for granted.
Safety is a primary concern, but so is ease of travel. A four-lane divided section with a concrete barrier is a step in the right direction. The coalition's proposed tunnel is a non-starter, for fiscal and safety reasons, as the recent pileup in the Massey Tunnel underscores.
Tunneling through some of the hardest rock on earth could cost in the vicinity of $70 million over the present budget. According to a federal government study, both the overland route and the tunnel proposed by the coalition would have environmental repercussions, but the overland route could be built to minimize that impact.
Money seems to be no object for the coalition. The municipality has already been saddled with the considerable expense associated with the failed legal case against the province and now provincial taxpayers will bear the costs of the injunction to halt the protest. That's likely why the mayor of West Vancouver has done a complete about face and accepted the overland route.
Eventually the upgrades will go through, as planned, and this protest will be seen for what it really is: a shortsighted misadventure.