Government looking for pubic input on Sea to Sky upgrade 

With the announcement that Vancouver and Whistler have won the 2010 Winter Olympic Games the pressure is on to get started on the $600 million Sea to Sky Highway upgrade.

Starting this week the Ministry of Transportation wants the public and other stakeholders to comment on issues they feel are critical to the project.

"Specifically what we need to work with are any concerns about impacts that the project may have that are not adequately addressed in the application," said Raymond Crook, project assessment director at the Environmental Assessment Office.

"If they live in the corridor they may be concerned about the long time frame of construction – six years – and the construction’s staged closures.

"There may be more concern about increased traffic and noise. They might urge support for the project. They might raise questions about the impact on wildlife management or fisheries, or they might question whether the analysis of economic costs and benefits is legitimate."

The comment period will run until Oct. 17.

There are several ways to make your views known:

• Email to eaoinfo@gems2.gov.bc.ca or Ray.Crook@gems2.gov.bc.ca .

• Write to: Raymond Crook, PO Box 9426 Stn Prov Govt, Victoria, B.C. V8W 9V1

• Phone: 1-250-356-7492

• Fax: 1-250-387-2208

• Attend public meetings. There will be two: one at Millennium Place on Sept. 12 from 4 to 9 p.m. and another at Totem Hall in Squamish on Sept.16 from 4 to 9 p.m.

Other stakeholders are also being canvassed for their views. They include the municipal governments in the corridor, the two regional districts, several provincial government ministries and a number of federal departments.

First Nations will also be asked for their input.

"We will hear all the issues raised and generally what we do is forward the issues to the agencies responsible for developing policy in the area of the issue to see if they feel that the issue has been adequately addressed," said Crook.

The developer, in this case the provincial government’s Ministry of Transportation, is also informed about the issues so that it can prepare a response to them.

"At the end of the application review state, which takes about six months, the EAO will prepare a report for the ministers," said Crook.

"(This) will identify the issues raised and whether or not we consider the issue has been adequately addressed and we will be relying primarily on existing government policy in that determination."

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