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  • Gayle Baker

Planning for Our Village's Future

March 4

Thirteen joined us via Zoom for this ASK Salt Spring gathering that welcomed the Chair of the Islands Trust Ganges Village Plan task force, Jenny MacClean. After her heartfelt Territorial Acknowledgment, she began by telling us why Ganges needs another plan despite several excellent ones in 1995 ( https://www.crd.bc.ca/docs/default-source/salt-spring-island-ea-pdf/cedc/ganges_ocp_95.pdf?sfvrsn=2)and 2007 (https://www.crd.bc.ca/docs/default-source/salt-spring-island-ea-pdf/cedc/ganges.pdf?sfvrsn=2).

The reasons supporting this new plan include:

  1. Many of the earlier recommendations have been completed,

  2. First Nations engagement has risen to a far higher priority than in former plans,

  3. Our climate emergency has also placed a far higher priority on climate action in our village planning than former plans, and

  4. Current realities like the North Salt Spring Waterworks moratorium and a sewerage system nearing capacity also need to be addressed.

Jenny reminded us of Ganges’s rich archeological heritage, a heritage that she believes needs to be both protected and honoured through better community information about the development processes of these sites as well as historical signage.

It is Jenny’s hope that this plan will map a future for Ganges with low impact residential options to create a vibrant village without the environmental consequences marring too many developments.

Jenny’s first question focused on Drake Road and concerns about the BC Housing project on the CRD property there. While this participant understood the need for this project, she questioned the wisdom of also including the shelter - currently at Community Services - at this location. She also asked about the apparent lack of community consultation and even understanding of this project. Jenny replied that while she also understands the need for such housing, she is also concerned by the apparent lack of community consultation, especially with adjacent neighbours. She promised to place a discussion about local feedback on the agenda for the next Gange Village Plan meeting. (All meetings are open and details/minutes are posted here: https://islandstrust.bc.ca/island-planning/salt-spring/projects/).

Jenny was then asked how the Plan will make Ganges more safe and attractive. She was asked how we can have a village rich with places to gather, sit ,and enjoy attractive plantings while so much of our village space is consumed supporting vehicles. Jenny agreed. She identified her priorities as :

  1. More crosswalks,

  2. Lowered speed limits,

  3. Comfortable bus shelters,

  4. More aesthetically-pleasing green space,

  5. Decreased congestion, and

  6. Success safely.accommodating all modes of active transportation.

It was agreed that we need pedestrian-friendly walkways for all to safety get around our village. We were reminded that many small communities - like Ladysmith and Croften - have successfully provided attractive, walkable spaces. With local illustrations of what can be accomplished, there was hope that this task force can guide us toward the plan for a safer, more pleasing, Ganges

While Jenny told us that the focus of this Islands Trust project is land use, the task force members are working hard to coordinate with stakeholders throughout our community to develop a village plan that meets the needs of all. As an example, members of this task force regularly-attend CRD Transportation Commission meetings to better coordinate with the Commission’s priorities. (We also learned that the Transportation Commission is about to embark upon a companion Gange Active Transportation Study to address some of these Ganges Village priorities, including access and safety for pedestrians and cyclists.)


Another participant envisions a village reflecting our artistic community. Jenny recalled that, as a youth, Ganges was clearly an art-driven community. Today, she believes that evidence of public art in our village is sorely-lacking. Jenny believes that green space and art can help to create that calming, restful, and welcoming village many of us envision.


And, what about a Buskers’s Corner? While buskers regularly gather on the steps leading to Barb’s Buns having fun and brightening the day for listeners, a participant asked about plans for a small stage to further encourage music in our village. While private property may be an option for this stage, another participant reminded us of pleasing public spaces - like the United Church Meadow - that seem to be currently under-utilized for such music gatherings. And, what about the possible community acquisition of the current firehall as a community centre with flowers, benches, attractive artisan and food carts. . .and, of course, a stage for buskers? (Want to know more? Fire Trustees will be ASK Salt Spring’s special guests Friday, March 25, 11-1.)


Further discussing a more attractive village, Jenny was asked about the amenities required by Island Trust Development Permits. We learned from a participant that almost 40 Ganges property owners were, over the years, given development rights in exchange for community amenities such as benches, sidewalks, flower planters, and coloured paving tiles. When walking Ganges seeking these required amenities, most would conclude that many of these amenities have not yet been completed. We learned from Jenny that a huge part of the problem is that these requirements have no deadline. The Ganges Village Plan task force members are aware of this issue and hope to address it.


A participant asked Jenny how this plan would address concerns about the health of its its harbour marine life as well as that of Ganges riparian streams. Ganges Creek, once a key First Nations watercourse and even significantly-healthier a mere 40 years ago, was an example of the need for a riparian plan. Jenny agreed - noting that Islands Trust needs to have more binding protections if we are to recapture the health of the waters surrounding Ganges.


Having learned a great deal about this promising task force and its hopes for mapping a safer, more attractive Ganges, the conversation shifted to the drama of the proposed Warming Space, already having suffered five traumatic evictions in 2022. This Warming Space seeks to offer a warm, safe gathering place for our inadequately-housed. There, they could connect with others, share meals, and seek the mental health support they need.


Organizers are working to find a central location for this Warming Space. (It is currently and temporarily in Ruckle Park, a location too distant to be of use for many of our disabled and elders. ) Proponents of this Warming Space have hopes of gaining both CRD and neighborhood support for an appropriate central location.


As the time for this ASK Salt Spring gathering was drawing to a close, proponents of this Warming Space promised to return next week for a conversation with our special guest, CRD’s Gary Holman, Friday, March 11, 11-1:

https://us02web.zoom.us/j/89745830131?pwd=S0dUUUtuZ0pTOU9haDBNMnhaR1M5dz09 time

As 1:00 approached, we all thanked Jenny for her enthusiasm, willingness to further explore our ideas, and genuine welcome of our feedback. We also noted that this ASK Salt Spring gathering had generated a long list of agenda items for subsequent meetings of this task force :). She welcomes our feedback. Please feel free to contact her at: orange.jenny@hotmail.com (Thanks, Jenny!)

Please join us 11-1 March 11 to welcome CRD’s Gary Holman

Given COVID concerns, we will be gathering virtually via Zoom:

https://us02web.zoom.us/j/89745830131?pwd=S0dUUUtuZ0pTOU9haDBNMnhaR1M5dz09

(In case you need it, the passcode is 947504)

What do you want to ask him?

  • What do we need to know about the proposed Warming Space?

  • What do you know about BC Housing’s plan to move the shelter to Drake Road?

  • Can you tell us what is happening with the LCC proposal?

  • When do you think HarbourWalk designs will be complete?

  • What do we need to do about decades of deferred road maintenance and increasing volumes on our roads?

  • And?

See you Friday, March 11, 11-1 on Zoom to welcome Gary!

Any question, anytime: ask@asksaltspring.com

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

asksaltspring.com

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

We love your receipts! Remember: #15

(Our Partners. . . .

Our rent - reduced through the generosity of our Library -

is being paid for byIsland Savings’ Simple Generosity grant.

Cookie and coffee fixings are the result of the generosity of Country Grocer.

What a team!)


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