The jump from winter to full-blown summer can be an abrupt one in the Gulf Islands.
Just a few weeks back we were scrounging in our woodpiles for the few last slips of bark to make it through the final damp stretch. Then the cosmic switch flipped and record-breaking temperatures began.
Mostly sunny skies and temperatures up to 23 degrees are predicted to continue through the weekend. Mother’s Day already saw scores of people wandering through the Mouat’s Mall parking lot with ice-cream in hand. While holiday Mondays are usually quieter, if last week is anything to go by, we can expect an even busier time than usual coming up.
The Victoria Day long weekend — or May-long as it’s more commonly known in these parts — signals the real start to our annual influx of summer visitors. Islanders will find their patience tapped as tourists coming for the Saturday market mix with two major sporting events, the Salt Spring Challenge Cup tourney and the Round Salt Spring sailing race.
Since this is the time of year when increased traffic is combined with drivers who may not be overly familiar with local roads, this is also the time when locals should put extra restraint and patience into practice for the long summer ahead. The weekend’s major special events often have an element of drinking involved, providing even more reason for caution.
To reduce the potential sources of danger and frustration while avoiding feeling trapped at home, why not use this opportunity to employ some car reduction strategies? Car pooling with a designated driver (who hopefully has a seven-seater minivan) is one excellent choice. Those who have yet to fully make use of the island’s award winning transit system — lauded this week for its extraordinary success over its first 10 years — can think about planning their day around the local schedule.
Active transportation methods are also good to explore, despite the extra traffic. Walkers and mobile scooter users can enjoy the growing pathway network, and cyclists can scout out the alternate routes that take them off the busiest roads.
Long weekends can be a real headache for locals. Let’s make this one a positive learning experience instead.