Monday, April 15, 2024
April 15, 2024

Island’s main road gets flood prevention work

Construction is set to begin this summer addressing the “undersized and fatigued” culverts that allow Cusheon Creek to flow beneath Fulford-Ganges Road at the so-called Blackburn bridge — increasing climate resiliency at a spot where water topped the roadway during the November 2021 atmospheric river event. 

Salt Spring’s Local Trust Committee (LTC) discharged parts of a conservation covenant and right-of-way agreement Thursday, March 7, clearing the way for the Ministry of Transportation and Infrastructure (MoTI) to proceed with road improvements that would have encroached upon a 10-metre setback from the natural boundary of Cusheon Creek. 

Cusheon Creek is protected in part because it supports a population of coho salmon and sea-run cutthroat trout, according to the 2006 conservation agreement, and is the third largest fish-bearing stream in the Southern Gulf Islands. 

But with approval to proceed from Fisheries and Oceans Canada — thanks in part to a design that provides improved fish passage and “restores a more natural stream environment,” according to planning documents — trustees agreed with staff recommendations and supported the planned work, which includes roadway and shoulder improvements at 1001 Fulford-Ganges Rd. 

“They will be following stringent requirements for works in and about a stream,” said planner Charly Caproff. “And this is a net benefit for the community; we don’t want to see washout of Fulford-Ganges Road, and we want to be prepared for future atmospheric rivers.” 

Indeed, according to the project manager referenced in Caproff’s report, the next “significant weather event” could result in a complete failure of the road, which had been fully closed for several days in 2021 as the road shoulder was washed out. 

“They’re actually building a bridge, not just a culvert,” said trustee Laura Patrick, as the LTC passed a resolution approving the discharge and requesting MoTI provide finals plans when available. “So it’s pretty cool.” 

The restrictive covenant and statutory right-of-way agreement was registered on the title for the residential lot at the time of its original subdivision, to protect the riparian area and hydrology of Cusheon Creek and Cusheon Lake; the rest of that property is still subject to those conditions, staff noted. 

MoTI is planning for construction to continue into the fall, according to Caproff. Islanders will soon be able to follow progress for this and other planned Salt Spring Island road projects — including a potential summer start to Ganges Hill work between Seaview Avenue and Cranberry Road — by visiting MoTI’s Transportation and infrastructure projects website at www2.gov.bc.ca/gov/content/transportation-projects.

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