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  • Gayle Baker

Benches, Bike Safety, and Bus Shelters. . . Are ExcitingThings Happening?

May 14

After appreciating a heartfelt Territorial Acknowledgment, 10 participants began asking our CRD Director, Gary Holman, questions about those issues that mean the most to us. Gary admitted that he was pre-occupied with a number of complex issues, one of which is the community’s - and his - concerns about safety concerns regarding the new Booth Canal Pathway.

At their April meeting, Transportation Commissioners expressed their commitment to consider safety issues and possible solutions. A team of retired engineering and safety professionals, including a member of the Commission and Partners Creating Pathways, recently joined CRD engineering staff to assess the pathway. It is hoped that their report will be ready for the May 31 Transportation Commission meeting.

At this April Transportation Commission meeting, there was consensus not to halt the project before it is completed. The reasoning behind not temporarily halting work was concern that the $490,000 provincial grant, already extended from a March 31, 2021 completion deadline, could be in jeopardy. Gary pointed out that provincial funding for pathways had been lost in the past due to delays - something no one wants to repeat.

In addition to seeking safety solutions and not halting construction, lessons can be learned from this Booth Canal project to improve future pathways. Gary presented a motion that was approved by the Commission to ensure that design plans will be formally presented to and reviewed by Commissioners before they are finalized and that safety implications for motorists and cyclists, as well as for pedestrians, will be included in the design process.

The Transportation Commission, in collaboration with CRD staff and Island Pathways volunteers will work to develop more appropriate rural pathway standards, including minimizing impacts on vegetation and trees

A participant asked why there was caution tape on the Booth Canal Pathway, restricting use of it. Gary told us that these areas were not yet complete, still needing safety enhancements such as railings and that completion (and tape removal) is expected soon.

It was noted that walkers are now forced into the street, a very dangerous unintended outcome.

A participant offered to contact CRD Monday to ask that temporary caution signs be posted to warn pedestrians of the danger until the tape has been removed. Many have expressed frustration that their pathway has become suddenly unavailable. While this is unfortunate, it was noted that this is a clear indication that the Booth Canal Pathway has already become an important pedestrian route, generating angst when it is temporarily unavailable .

While Gary shares the safety concerns associated with the Booth Canal Pathway, he did remind us that two significant pedestrian routes - the completion of the Ganges Rainbow-Lower Ganges loop as well as the Booth Canal Pathway, both completed this year - have significantly enhanced the walkability of our island.

A participant asked for advice about dealing with dangerous dead trees that could threaten roads and power lines during high winds. Gary indicated the approach depends on whether they are on private or Ministry of Transportation and Infrastructure (MoTI) property. It was suggested that this participant begin by seeking seek from BC Hydro and our roads maintenance contractor, Emcon.

Another participant offered kudos for all the new benches that are appearing all around town, each in such a perfect location that he is constantly enticed him to sit on them and ponder the wonders surrounding him. Serendipitously, the builder of these benches (all 35 of them) was with us at this ASK Salt Spring gathering - so he could hear this appreciation directly.

Partnering with the Chamber, it is hoped that there will soon be many more. . . with his personal goal of 50! And, a participant offered to pay the material costs for another of these benches right then and there. It is expected that a location will soon be determined, and we will be on our way to bench #36. Look for it!

Interested in supporting a bench yourself? Just ask:

As we were celebrating, the crosswalk flags were also acknowledged. . . and the Transportation Commissioner with the vision, tenacity, and energy to create them was with us as well! Keep watching. . . more to come.

Still immersed in transportation issues, a participant spoke with passion of art-inspired, locally-built bus shelters. We learned that there are - finally! - approved guidelines and suggested locations. The Transportation Commission is now ready to consider preliminary proposals from local builders for artistic bus shelters.

BC Transit generously supports the construction of bus shelters, but only the factory-made Richmond options: BC Transit offers an enticing 50% discount for these shelters. (Sometimes these discounts skyrocket to as much as an 80% discount.) This passionate locally-built bus shelter advocate asked Gary why BC Transit would not also financially support local, art-inspired bus shelters. Gary has pursued this question before with BC Transit, with no positive results, but committed to ask it again at an upcoming meeting with BC Transit managers as part of the their strategic review of the Salt Spring bus system.

While BC Transit funding for locally-built bus shelters would be very helpful, Gary assured us that funding is available for local builders with interest in building artistic bus shelters, either from Transportation Commission reserves or gas tax funding. And, a participant, one of our local builders - said - Yes, I am interested! Are you a builder who is also interested in helping provide Salt Spring with its art-inspired bus shelters? Let us know: . . .

We learned that our long-awaited laundromat is finally nearing completion. A manager has been employed, and doors are expected to open by early summer - wahoo!

Concerning community use of the Middle School, PARC Manager, Dan Ovington, is creating a business plan and options, and the Arts Council is expected to take the lead as a key umbrella group liaising with potential renters. Gary reminded us that the school district may want to reclaim parts of the facility if demographics warrant it, which in the shorter term at least, may limit options requiring a major structural changes and longer tenures. It is hoped that community usage of the facility will begin early next year.

Gary reminded us that licensing of our proposed Gulf Islands Community Radio Station is progressing. A CRTC public hearing hearing is scheduled July 8. It was through wide-spread community support that they have gotten this far, and your continued help is appreciated

Gary was asked what is happening with the proposed Chanel Ridge Rogers cell tower, on which equipment for CREST, our emergency communications system, would be co-located. With the support of all our first responders, Gary is hoping that this proposal will be successful. It is likely to be on the Islands Trust agenda soon. While the Trust does not have to authority to deny this tower, proponents do seek their support. While this proposed cell tower will offer far improved coverage for some north and western portions of Salt Spring, a location to better serve the Ganges area has yet to be located.

While CRD staff have temporarily been diverting their attention to the Middle School business plan, Gary told us that PARC is moving forward hiring a designer to produce shovel-ready drawings for our long-awaited Harbourwalk. These designs are a prerequisite for provincial approval of the needed right of way for the project. This is a huge step forward for an important Salt Spring project that has been stalled for decades. Gary credited Richard Kerr and the Local Trust Committee on recognizing this rare opportunity to finally clear the way for construction.

The money needed for the design plans has been secured, with gas tax money allocated by former CRD Director, Wayne McIntyre, as well as a promise from Gary to top it up if more is needed. These design plans will allow us to apply for grants to build the HarbourWalk, with the likelihood of additional funding from community fundraising initiatives.

As 1:00 approached, Gary assured us that he and others are working to move forward with the composting facility proposed for the Burgoyne Valley Community Farm. He also announced plans for Level Three chargers at a central location. While also available for personal vehicles, these Level Three chargers are an important step forward - finally offering commercial electric vehicles, like taxis and delivery vans, the fast charging they need during their many daily deliveries. Stay tuned for an announcement of the location of these Level Three chargers - that next important step as we retain Salt Spring’s place as the #1 electric vehicle community (per capita) in all of North America. . . .

As we thanked Gary for being with us for a rich and fascinating conversation, he acknowledged the great value of ASK Salt Spring in breaking down silos and building meaningful collaborations.

Want to participate in these fun and fruitful conversations? Islands Trustee Laura Patrick will be joining us next Friday, May 21, from 11-1.

Are you interested in learning more about the Ganges Village Plan?

How about the Salt Spring Island Housing Action Program?

Are you interested in what is going on at the Islands Trust federation level or what’s on the upcoming June Trust Council agenda?

Please join us to ask your questions, listen to those of others, and participate in rich, respectful conversations. . . .

To join us, please click:

Passcode: 989981

Any question, anytime:

Want to see reports from all the ASK Salt Spring gatherings?

Want to help? ASK Salt Spring now has a Save-a-Tape box at Country Grocer.

We would love your receipts! Remember: #15

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