09/18/2014 12:21 EDT | Updated 06/16/2017 00:58 EDT

Gabriola Island bridge could replace BC Ferries service

The B.C. government is going to study the idea of building a bridge to Gabriola Island to replace BC Ferries service to the Southern Gulf Island.

The study, which is expected to get underway this fall for completion by the spring, will examine potential locations, provide a cost estimate, and make a cost comparison with the existing ferry service.

The government says the study is a response to a petition by local residents, but the study is not intended to assess public support for the idea.

Recently ferry service to the island, which is located just east of Nanaimo, was cut back as a cost cutting measure by BC Ferries. The island is home to about 4,000 full-time residents and larger summer population.