Ken Marr makes valid points in his opinion piece on the transportation referendum. But the credibility of these points is undermined by omissions and errors of fact.
Fact #1: The SSI Transportation Commission (SSITC) referendum is not solely related to a sidewalk on Rainbow; funding will advance progress on multiple safety-driven projects:
- a sidewalk in the school zone on Rainbow to the pool
- sidewalk and bike lanes on Lower Ganges from Rainbow/Mahon Hall to the Upper Ganges intersection
- the Ganges Village Pathway Network
- plus Ganges Hill.
Fact #2: The recent Commission vote on the Rainbow sidewalk marks the fourth time Commissioners and the CRD Director have voted to endorse the project going back to October 2010.
Fact #3: A paved sidewalk proposed by CRD consultants was estimated to cost $1.5m. So the School Board and Island Pathways volunteers joined transportation commissioners to craft a new design to reduce the estimated cost by 70%. The design specifies the proven "pathway blend" surface treatment approved by the Ministry of Transportation (MoT) and CRD which has been such a success in the Ganges Village Pathway Network. It is specified to accommodate bicycles, wheelchairs and mobility scooters.
Fact #4: Regarding accidents, it was the death of a pedestrian on Lower Ganges in 2004 and a student struck by a car in the school district which led to community demands for increased safety in the first instance. CRD Director Gary Holman responded to the outcry by budgeting gas tax funds for a masterplan called the “North Ganges Transportation Plan”. The Driftwood characterizes the Plan as "public-driven" (article Oct 12, 2011).
Fact #5: Ken has always been consistent in expressing his views. As confirmed in the consultants final report of August 2010: the views centred on "concerns about losing parking spaces".
Fact #6: The land fronting Windsor Plywood is public property road right-of-way. The current parking is non-conforming with MoT standards; the sidewalk will convert the parking from illegal angle parking to legal parallel parking. It will not result in the loss of a single legal parking space in Ganges. Windsor staff may choose to park on Rainbow a few feet to the west fronting the GISS playing fields where parallel parking is plentiful.
Fact #7: CRD consultants JE Anderson concluded: "Following the public open house, it was determined that a multi-use pathway [on Rainbow] was the preferred option" (August 2010). To preserve the current parking situation, Ken Marr has proposed an alternative pathway running behind Windsor Plywood. School Board 64 rejected the Windsor proposal. The sidewalk on Rainbow has been formally endorsed by:
- School District 64 Board
- The Schools Superintendent
- all three school principals
- the GISS Student Council
- Islands Trust
- The SSI Chamber of Commerce
- the RCMP
- the Economic Development Commission
- Island Pathways
- the SSITC
- CRD Directors Gary Holman, Garth Hendren and Wayne McIntyre going back to 2008
Fact #8: To state that "No businesses on Rainbow Road have been formally consulted" is untrue. CRD consultants, the CRD Project Engineer, the Commission Working Group and the CRD Director all met with Ken Marr. Ken was unable to convince anyone including James & Assoc or JE Anderson & Assoc or CRD Project Engineer Joshua Frederick of the merits of his proposal; but he was given a full hearing.
Fact #9: The current design includes improving safety at the Lower Ganges intersection by moving the crosswalk from the south to the north side of Rainbow to intersect with the planned sidewalk.
Fact #10: Rainbow is not an "industrial corridor"; it is a school zone with a 30kph speed limit. Three schools, two pick-up points for school children, the skateboard park, playing fields, a recreation centre and public pool and allotment gardens dominate this stretch of Rainbow.
Fact #11: Ken says Rainbow will get busier with time; he is no doubt correct. This reinforces the argument with each passing school year in favour of getting school children off the roadway.
Fact #12: A key reason to support the referendum is that SSI taxpayer funds are essential to leverage funds from MoT. Large-scale projects require funds from three sources: MoT; gas tax (from the CRD Director); and the taxpayer.
Fact #13: Phase one of the North Ganges Transportation Plan was built in 2012 - of the total $1.2m cost, $600k came from gas tax; $500k was leveraged from MoT; and $100k came from the SSI taxpayer via the SSITC requisition. We need to repeat this amazing leverage.
Fact #14: There are no sidewalks from Mahon Hall to the Upper Ganges intersection; nor in the school district; nor on Ganges Hill. These areas are heavily walked and cycled by residents, visitors, students and mothers with strollers. Is it appropriate to consign all these users to the roadway? What does that say about us as a community? Do we want a vibrant village core to be welcoming and safe for all users, motorists, pedestrians and cyclists alike? Are we prepared to pay for basic sidewalks?
Fact #15: If Ganges is to become safer for pedestrians, we need to hope that the referendum passes. To quote the chair of the Economic Development Commission John Tylee: "Creating pedestrian-friendly environments is at the core of every truly successful community".