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  • Gayle Baker

Roads, Roads, and More Roads: Salt Springers Worry About Road Safety

November 22:

Five individuals came to ask question at this, the seventh ASK Salt Spring session. Jessica Harkema, our Chamber's Chief Executive Officer, was there the entire time, skillfully answering questions from her perspective as Executive Director of the Chamber as well as her life-long experience here as an involved resident.

The theme for the day explored concerns about the safety of our roads. Initially, the conversation focused on Leisure Lane and frustration with the high number of fast-moving vehicles (even including semis and contractor vehicles) using this quiet, curvy lane as a shortcut.

While this citizen was concerned now, he pointed out that when MeadowLane is completed the problem will intensify. Not only will there be significantly-more traffic with its completion, expected in 2022, but there will also be far more elderly pedestrians on this dangerous lane.

While signage (especially a prohibition of commercial vehicles) was suggested, our guest maintained that signs would not solve the problem. He suggested, instead, speed bumps.

The conclusion was that the best place for him to begin to address his concerns would be a visit to the Transportation Commission. While we discussed the reality that the Transportation Commission doe not have the jurisdiction required to unilaterally add traffic calming methods, it is a good place to begin to frame the problem and seek solutions. He committed to be a delegation at the January Transportation Commission meeting.

Another question concerned the ownership of a property on Jackson. The enquirer was guided to Islands Trust where planners are both helpful and eager to address Salt Spring questions. (Interestingly, this individual did not know where the Islands Trust offices were located, so it was good to introduce him to this resource.) Correction: We have subsequently learned that Islands Trust doe not give our information about property owners. Asked has been told of this mis-information.

The safety of our roads continued to be the theme of the day, with concerns expressed throughout the room about the danger of our roads, especially during our dark, stormy nights. The question was raised: “What is so hard about at least maintaining the painting?”

One active, vibrant individual had quit singing, unwilling to brave the roads at night to get to practices. The question was asked: “What is the newest technology available to make our roads safer?” While the answer may not be “cats’ eyes” there was the strong suspicion that there is something on the market to help make our rural roads safer. Darryl committed to contact 3M to identify some options.

We discussed how our curvy, dark roads became even more dangerous when walkers in dark clothing are added to the mix. Jessica mentioned armbands that the Lions have given out to try to protect our pedestrians. She is going to see if they have any left so that these armbands can be distributed to pedestrians throughout our island.

The conversation then shifted to speed limits - with the consensus in the room that they should be lowered. Darryl promised to discuss such a recommendation with his Climate Action Committee. Not only would lower speed limits use less fuel but they would help to make active transportation a safer option on Salt Spring.

One young professional spoke briefly about the impossibility of remaining on Salt Spring due to the extreme difficulty of getting housing. Despite her good salary, she fears that she will eventually have to leave due to high housing costs.

The conversation shifted to funding for the proposed laundromat, the fast-approaching deadline for the Shaw funds, and challenges that need to be addressed before the November 30 deadline if this opportunity is going to be pursued.

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