Thursday, December 8, 2022
December 8, 2022

Booth-Baker pathway fixes proposed

Low and no-cost measures to enhance safety around the Booth Canal pathway completed earlier this year will be given priority in the Capital Regional District’s 2022 capital plan, with more expensive solutions also included in the budget. 

That was the outcome of an Oct. 25 discussion at the Salt Spring Island Transportation Commission (SSITC)  meeting regarding a pathway project that has garnered concern from some residents, mainly around driver sight lines at the Baker and Lower Ganges road intersection and cyclist safety. CRD electoral area director Gary Holman, who sits on the commission together with seven commissioners, said the Booth Canal pathway discussions, while “excruciating,” have also been a lesson the commission can apply to future pathway projects.  

The SSITC, which oversees pedestrian and cycling infrastructure as well as transit, is quite unique as many other communities do not have a similar entity, said Holman.

“It has seen miles of pathways being built in and around particularly Ganges. Overall it’s been quite successful, but the Booth Canal project showed us that we can tighten up our due diligence and our process,” he said.  

“The commission, which includes me, weren’t completely aware of some of the design elements for the pathway,” Holman said, partially due to the tight deadline that went along with nearly half a million dollars in provincial grant funding for the pathway. “[Staff] had to get that work in, and so they kind of rushed the process. But I think myself and the commission also have to be more insistent that we see those designs before we proceed.”  

At the Oct. 25 SSITC meeting, the commission passed a motion to first explore low-cost and no-cost ways of enhancing safety around the Baker and Lower Ganges road intersection to address continued concerns from some residents and cyclists. This includes projects that have already been completed: a white stop line painted at the intersection to improve sightlines for drivers, signs on Lower Ganges warning of the Baker Road intersection, and shrubs and vegetation at the intersection being removed.  

Other plans include possibly installing parabolic mirrors on the golf course side of the intersection, contacting the RCMP to help with speed enforcement along Lower Ganges and more signs warning walkers and cyclists of the intersection.  

Some of these suggestions come from a group of Baker Road area residents, whose main concern was a retaining wall near the Saint Mark’s cemetery, Holman said. 

“This doesn’t mean we won’t redo the retaining wall . . . our motion said let’s explore the low-cost alternatives first,” he said. 

Commissioners also instructed staff to come back and brief them before moving ahead with items related to the pathway in the CRD’s capital plan.  

Four such projects are included in the 2022 to 2026 capital plan. 

One involves removing and possibly relocating the curbs, referred to in the staff report as concrete barriers, along Lower Ganges Road from Baker Road south, except for those that protect a fire hydrant. Paving may need to be done if the curbs are relocated, with $10,000 budgeted for that work in the capital plan for 2022.  

A second project involves relocating the curbs along Lower Ganges Road from the Booth Canal Road intersection north towards Baker Road at a cost of $50,000. The province’s Ministry of Transportation and Infrastructure (MOTI) has stated these curbs can only be relocated, not removed. 

To deal with the retaining wall, staff would first do detailed engineering and design work to either demolish, replace or relocate the retaining wall and the pathway north of Baker Road. That work has a $30,000 budget.

Following the completion of engineering and design work, the actual demolition, replacement or relocation of the pathway and retaining wall has $99,000 budgeted for it in 2023. Some $90,000 would come from a Community Works Fund (gas tax) grant, and $9,000 from the CRD. 

In sum, $99,000 would be needed from the CRD’s capital reserve fund for the planned projects, as well as a $90,000 grant. 

“In total, this is an additional $189,000 spent on a pathway that currently meets all MOTI requirements and specifications,” the staff report noted.  

The designs were done by the Stantec engineering firm, passed by the CRD engineer and agreed to by MOTI.  

“So our staff’s view is to do further work on Booth Canal, after it’s gone through several sets of engineers . . . it’s not necessary. But nevertheless, there are concerns for both folks living on Baker Road and also cyclists with those curbs,” Holman said. “[Staff] don’t see the need, from a technical or safety perspective, but members of the community do and the commission wants to respond to that.” 

Also on Oct. 25, the commission passed their first tree removal guidelines, an action spurred by the pathway project. Some residents protested after two dozen or so trees designated as dangerous were removed during construction. Part of the new process involves including trees set to be removed on design documents, which would then be reviewed and approved by the commissions or committees before the trees are cut down. 

It will be a busy year for Salt Spring’s roads, Holman said, with MOTI committed to repaving Ganges hill up to the Cranberry Road junction in 2022. This will involve widening the shoulder lanes on both sides, with at least a 1.5-metre paved shoulder and another .5 metre of packed gravel. Ganges hill has been a priority for the commission for a number of years, Holman said.

An off-road path on Upper Ganges Road from Leisure Lane up to Merchant Mews, which is the next priority pathway after Booth Canal, is to be undertaken in 2022, Holman said. The capital plan also includes a $60,000 grant to complete a Ganges village transportation plan, as part of broader Ganges village area planning work currently being undertaken by the Salt Spring Local Trust Committee. 

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