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2018 Elections – Candidates Perspectives on Sustainable Transportation

    Editorial & Opinions, Election Candidates    October 16, 2018

In the lead up to Election Day on October 20th, 2018, the Community Alliance will post answers from candidates to crucial questions. Today, we focus on impact of sustainable transportation.

Question: How would you promote environmentally sustainable transportation on Salt Spring?

Sabrina Ali (candidate for Islands Trustee):

I would like to see public transit extended north beyond Fernwood to North Beach Road.

I would definitely give priority to those initiatives that leave green spaces and are accessible by walking, biking or public transit

I would investigate the creation of separate bike paths, not on the road.

I would encourage incorporating alternative transportation (walking, biking, public transit) into any proposals we consider.

Kylie Coates (candidate for Islands Trustee):

By promoting and expanding our bus service and by creating better bike lanes and more of a bike friendly environment also asking BC ferries to get rid of their two dollar charge for bicycles

Also asking some of are businesses to maybe starting a carpool system

Peter Grove (candidate for Islands Trustee):

N/A a CRD matter

Gary Holman (candidate for CRD Director):

As former CRD Director, I established the first public transit system on SSI, now the most successful of its kind in BC, and the CRD Transportation Commission which oversees transit and builds and maintains cycling and pedestrian pathways in partnership with Island Pathways and MOT. The Transportation Commission, which also includes parking management as part of its mandate, is still unique in among rural (unincorporated areas of) BC.

One of my priorities as CRD Director will be to expand our public transit and pathway/bus shelter network. BC Transit has indicated that it can fund a significant expansion of the transit system in 2019. This will require matching operating funding on a roughly 50/50 basis from Salt Spring, which may be at least partly possible from growing fare revenues, and on the capital side from federal gas tax transfers. I also believe that the Transportation Commission and BC Transit should be considering the feasibility of some form of Handi Dart service, perhaps in partnership with community groups such as Greenwoods.

We need to complete the North Ganges Transportation Plan, which I developed as CRD Director. The first phase of the project has been completed, but the second phase extending into Ganges and up Rainbow Road, has yet to begin despite taxpayer approval of funding four years ago. Once this project is completed, the next priority would be to extend pathways up the increasingly busy and dangerous Ganges Hill. The good news is that MOT has indicated Ganges Hill would be one of its priorities for future road upgrades in the Fulford to Ganges corridor, which bodes well for potential partnerships.

Through innovative partnerships between the Transportation Commission, Island Pathways and MOT (called Partners Creating Pathways) we have been able to build $1 million in pathways at a local taxpayer cost of about $250,000. This partnership, which in recent years has encountered some administrative obstacles from MOT and CRD, must be renewed so that the next pathway connecting Baker Road to Central Hall (with SSI Foundation and gas tax grants already committed) can be built. The CRD has also just begun to invest in the extension of the CRD Parks’ Regional Trail to SSI, prioritizing the Vesuvius to Central Hall portion. BC Ferries is also committed within the next few years to upgrading ferry parking to remove vehicles from the road. We also need to ensure that pedestrian and cycling use on Fulford Hill is made safer, and this may require a partnership with the Transportation Commission, MOTY and Island Pathways.

Pathway building, as with conservation purchases, is most successful when approached as a partnership. I propose to establish a permanent inter-agency group focused on completing the entire CRD Regional Trail which extends from Vesuvius to Fulford, comprised of organizations such as the CRD Transportation Commission, MOT, Island Pathways, CRD Parks, BC Ferries, and the TransCanada Trail. This body, modelled on other inter-agency initiatives such as the South and West SSI Conservation Partnership, (which I established and culminated in the protection of (the remainder of this response was deleted, as it exceeded the 500 word count limit).

Howard Holzapfel (candidate for Islands Trustee):

I support the expansion of use of electrical vehicles with more charging stations and dedicated parking. Also, the next bus for our transportation system should be an EV or hybrid vehicle. I am working with Chief George to replace a current gasoline-powered utility vehicle with an EV. Dedicated bike lanes should be integrated into the roadways during their next paving cycles.

Laura Patrick (candidate for Islands Trustee):

While appreciating that many in our community are already voluntarily reducing their ecological and carbon footprints, we can do better by doing even more to achieve greater reductions through innovative incentives, policies and bylaws. We can do better at planning the future of our community. We must realistically consider the benefits and challenges of tourism as well as the impacts of climate change.

I fully support more vehicle charging services here on Salt Spring, including services for commercial vehicles. We need to seek efficiencies in the ways goods and services are transported on and off the island. As the Vice Chair of the Community Economic Develop Commission (CEDC), I am pleased to report that the CEDC is exploring opportunities for island businesses, big and small, to better cooperate and share business services including transportation. Efforts like these have the potential to moderate the growth of commercial traffic.

Transitions Salt Spring’s EV Group has done a remarkable job of helping our population of eco-conscious islanders to adopt EVs at a much higher rate than anywhere else in Canada. I think Salt Spring is an ideal test bed for new innovation. Following the Green Services cohort of the Rural Business Accelerator, CEDC commissioners Holly MacDonald and Francine Carlin have received tremendous support from Adam Olsen and the Chamber of Commerce to have Salt Spring designated as a green business pilot location.

Presently, the Islands Trust supports car sharing and electronic meeting attendance to reduce car trips. I believe the Islands Trust must be a leader in green transportation practices to set an example for other organizations operating in the Trust Area. I expect Islands Trust to reach 100% EV within its fleet within a reasonable time period, and aim to have EV charging stations at places of employment to service employee-owned vehicles.

Climate action could be better addressed within the Official Community Plan (OCP). I would expect Transitions Salt Spring’s EV Group to participate in identifying how the OCP could be improved to guide the location of EV services in our villages.

We need to help islanders to reduce their dependence on cars. I believe we need to explore options to create community car share programs, expand the bus system and expand our efforts to build bike and pedestrian pathways. When we revisit the OCP, we can explore more options to reduce our dependence on cars.

Robin Williams (candidate for CRD Director):

I am a strong supporter of the electric vehicle group on Salt Spring Island and hope to see the same success with electric bikes. I will allocate community works funding for this. We are also looking into low speed lower cost electric vehicles at the Transportation Commission (SSITC). Also at the SSITC which I have chaired for the last four years we operate the most successful rural bus service in the province. This is the result of a significant capital plan we put in place about five years ago. Finally I will implement an electric parking shuttle service for the 2019 which should also function as a Ganges people mover.

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