A group of Gabriola Islanders is gathering signatures on a petition opposing building a bridge to Gabriola or any other island in the Salish Sea.

The province has just awarded a $200,000 contract for a feasibility study on a fixed link from Gabriola to Vancouver Island to a company called CH2M Hill Canada Ltd. Transportation Minister Todd Stone says the study was prompted by a petition signed by about 600 of Gabriola’s 4,000 residents who support the idea of building a bridge to replace the existing ferry service.

Steve O’Neill with the group Bridge-Free Salish Sea says that’s worrisome given the lack of consultation with local governments or the Islands Trust.

O’Neill says they’re very concerned about the negative impact of building fixed links to replace ferries. He says there’s much more to consider beyond whether it’s possible from an engineering perspective.

O’Neil says they’re kick-starting a petition of their own this week, opposing building bridge to Gabriola or any other Gulf Island. They hope to gather 2-3,000 signatures. He says Nanaimo-North Cowichan MLA Doug Routley has agreed to present the petition during the Legislature’s spring session. Bridge-Free Salish Sea is also launching an anti-bridge letter-writing campaign aimed at Transportation Minister Todd Stone and Premier Christy Clark.