transportation video library Feb 28, 2022

Travel over land in BC’s early days was a story of people with a purpose, pushing through heavy forest, climbing sheer canyon walls, and finding hidden passages through seemingly impassable mountain ranges. 

BC’s First Nation peoples were the original trail builders. Explorers and fur traders followed their routes. Then, the mad dash for riches during the Gold Rush made road building an urgent necessity. 

The early trails and roads became the forerunners of today’s highways and transportation routes which climb BC’s many mountain ranges, skirt the inland waterways, and span the wide interior plains.

Since World War II, the phenomenal increase in industrial activity, population and number of vehicles has made highway construction and maintenance a huge undertaking. 

In the southern part of the province, the TransCanada, Coquihalla, Sea to Sky, and Vancouver Island highways are major transportation arteries. 

The Yellowhead and Stewart-Cassiar, are important road systems to the north. Highway 97 acts as a major route connecting the southern and northern parts of the province. 

The smaller backroads and unpaved routes are important components of the forest, mining, ranching, oil and gas, tourism and recreation industries. 

Transportation by rail is also a major element of BC’s economy. Passengers and freight are constantly moved by rail around and across BC.  

In the large urban Metro Vancouver region and lower mainland, the West Coast Express and Skytrain move many people quickly around densely populated areas.  

Another important transportation network is BC’s Ferry System. It serves almost 50 ports of call while also providing access to Vancouver Island, the Gulf Islands, and other coastal communities. 

BC’s inland ferry system provides free transportation across BC’s lakes and rivers not spanned by bridges.

Energy is transported across BC through a network of electric transmission lines and hydrocarbon pipelines.

Air travel is another important means of transportation in the province. In addition to airports and heliports on land, there is a complex network of airways in the sky. Just like highways on land, they define routes across BC’s skies for all kinds of aircraft. 

Transportation is an extremely important element of BC’s economy and society. However, the movement of people and goods also introduces negative impacts.

Road and Rail construction often requires bridges, tunnels, and elaborate reconfigurations of the natural landscapes in order to overcome BC’s many natural barriers like mountains, canyons, lakes, and rivers.

Linear features like roads and rail lines break up and fragment natural landscapes. 

For species such as grizzly bears and caribou, fragmented habitat isolates and weakens the population. 

Other transportation infrastructure impacts include the potential for mass movements such as debris flows and mudslides, mortality rates of wildlife due to vehicle collisions, and impacts on water quality due to the rate chemicals and silt are added to streams. 

Ferries and aircraft help people move around BC’s waterways and in the air. However, land and aquatic habitat is lost or fragmented when ferry landings and airports are built. Water quality is impacted by the introduction of chemicals, and the increase in noise and light pollution also impacts local ecosystems. 

Our transportation systems and the environment impact each other. Avalanche control and weather forecasting are practices that help monitor impact on our transportation infrastructure. 

Environmental programs, specifications and best practices guide work to help ensure compliance with environmental laws and regulations aimed at lowering environmental impacts. 

For example, culvert retrofits help species such as salmon and trout rebuild their populations. Wildlife exclusion fencing, overpasses, underpasses and warning signs help reduce wildlife collisions. The implementation of road construction best practices also helps to limit the introduction and spread of invasive species. 

In the future it is predicted that global trade will continue to increase demand for transportation and Canada's natural resources. 

Some of the province's transportation infrastructure will be tested as weather events related to climate change are expected to become more frequent. In more densely populated areas, rapid transit and automated electric vehicle infrastructure will rise as people increasingly look for safe, reliable, and efficient means of transportation. 

Active transportation, or human-powered transportation methods, the creation of bike lanes and walking trails is increasing in many urban centres.

In BC Tomorrow, transportation and the rate of industrial activity are linked. 

When the Industrial activity slider is moved, the rate that roads or transportation infrastructure is built changes. When roads are built to access natural resources like forests, minerals, coal or oil and gas deposits, the rate of industrial activity is impacted. 

Use BC tomorrow to investigate how changing the rate of industrial activity and transportation impacts your watershed while you are creating your own future land use plans. 


Ready to get started? We've created a quickstart guide for you. Follow our handy step by step guide and get BC Tomorrow in your lesson plans in as little as one week!

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