A total of 18 participants came to the United Church Meadow last Friday from 11-1 for the weekly ASK Salt Spring gathering. The discussion began with a few updates from previous ASK Salt Spring gatherings:
A) Adam’s visit last week initiated two conversations:
Salt Spring Solutions volunteers as well as other enthusiasts in our community are in the initial stages of generating community-wide advocacy to complete the long-delayed Salish Sea Trail, consisting of bike lanes from Fulford to Vesuvius. The completion of this would finally close the loop connecting Salt Spring to the popular Vancouver Island trail network. As the result of Adam’s questioning of provincial urban standards for our rural pathways, a conversation has begun advocating for these far less expensive rural standards.
B) As a result of Emcon’s visit, there are efforts to bring over a water truck to keep down the dust so that our roads could be swept in dry weather. There is also an effort to bring a compactor from Vancouver Island to better fill potholes, but the forklift to unload this compactor has yet to be identified.
C) Salt Spring will get centerlines painted this summer. From what we are told, crews are expected to arrive one evening in August, and, by morning, they will be gone, leaving us with freshly-painted centerlines. Many of our crosswalks are also now being refurbished using longer-lasting thermoplastic.
We began our conversation with Gary discussing our most recent information about Ganges Hill: It is now expected to be re-paved from Embe Bakery to Beddis/Charlesworth Roads next summer.. Gary spoke of the importance of shoulder bike lanes as well as a pedestrian pathway on the uphill side. With this extra time, there is hope that the pathway can be designed and shovel-ready in time to apply for Active Transportation grants, due February, 2021.
Gary spoke of his disappointment that the Gulf Islands were excluded from the Southern Vancouver Island Transportation Strategy despite a supporting recommendation from the CRD Board. As a result of his efforts to address this oversight, Minister Trevena has committed to convene a meeting with Gulf Island representatives to discuss a long-term transportation strategy.
There was acknowledgment that the North Ganges Transportation Project, Phase Two had finally begun, with workers already on the road. It was also again noted that the waterside area across the street is unsightly, unsafe, and unacceptable for pedestrians. Gary committed to walk this area with MoTI managers and others to seek solutions. At an earlier ASK Salt Spring gathering, Emcon managers had also promised to lend support, such as moving barriers and filling potholes.
The conversations shifted to the Market in the Park. We learned that long-time coordinator, Rob Pingle, has moved to another opportunity, a huge loss to the Market at this critical time. According to Gary, PARC has recommended that the Market, traditionally held on Saturdays, be held on Fridays, at least initially, as a compromise to support venders while limiting our exposure to crowds of visitors.
Currently, it appears that the Market could begin the third week of July, a delay due to the need to hire another coordinator. If more than 50 vendors sign up, it is possible that this market could also be held on Thursdays. Efforts will be made to monitor it consistently and adapt accordingly.
Several wondered why the Market could not be spread out all over Ganges so that buyers would walk all around our village rather that clustering in Centennial Park. While there seems to be support of this idea, Gary reminded us that its location in Centennial Park was the result of a strong preference by both vendors and local merchants.
There was a brief discussion of the Gas Tax funding. Some recent expenditures of this federally-allocated funding stream by the Electoral Districts- most notably the purchase by the Juan de Fuca District of a machine to collect dog poop - has resulted in the Union of British Columbian Municipalities (UBCM), the monitor of these funds, closely-evaluating these expenditures. It appears that planned use of this funding for the Root, the Salt Spring Farmland Trust’s centre dedicated to education focused on food security, food safety, and cooking/processing/preserving locally-grown food, will be approved. Gary is still working to get approval to support the implementation for the Climate Action Plan. Having used Gas Tax funds to support the writing of the plan, it seems inconsistent that this same funding source could not be used to implement the resulting plan. Stay tuned...
When asked about the availability of one of many currently-unused portions of PARC land to provide temporary housing to get folks off the street, Gary spoke briefly about this land. (Much of it has been acquired by PARC as the 5% parkland allocation required from a developer before approval of a development.) Years ago, there had been an attempt to sell these small, scattered, parcels of land, generating strong opposition from vocal Salt Springers. To re-allocate any of these parcels for affordable housing, a referendum would be required.
A seemingly-simpler route to designate some land for temporary housing (like the Wagon Wheel’s Conestoga-style HUT exhibited at ASK Salt Spring last week), would be use of some of the currently-unused CRD Drake Road land. While a portion of the five acre plot is being considered for a project by BC Housing, nothing has been officially announced concerning this possibility. Even with this hoped-for BC Housing project, there may be remaining land in the CRD Drake Road property that could temporarily house some of our inadequately-housed residents.
There were questions from an Early Childcare Educator (ECE) about the two Rainbow Road childcare facilities currently being constructed - one in a portable and the other a permanent addition to the Rainbow Road Pool. (Both of these new facilities will be made available for public use in the evenings/weekends when they are not being used for childcare.) We were reminded that the need for childcare is for infants and toddlers rather than preschool children, with an estimated 80 babies born on Salt Spring every year. She expressed concern that this new publicly-funded centre would unfairly compete with privately-run local preschools. Gary asked that a meeting be set up so that he could more-thoroughly understand the concerns and seek solutions.
As this ASK Salt Spring gathering drew to a close, a representative of Salt Spring Solutions dropped in briefly to answer question about advocacy efforts to finally complete bike lanes from Fulford to Vesuvius. Seeking to coalesce a common vision around this important project, support is being sought from both cyclists as well as those committed to attract eco-tourists.
Gary asked the group how they felt about the United Church Meadow space after PARC (which now manages it under a license of occupation with the Church) had cleared some brush, moved benches and provided garbage bins. The consensus appeared to be positive concerning these changes.
Having had a welcome dose of sunshine on this lovely summer day, we thanked Gary for joining us and left - many of us with red noses - to enjoy the weekend, many promising to return to the United Church Meadow next Friday, July 17, for an ASK Salt Spring gathering from 11-1 welcoming Trustee Laura Patrick.