The Capital Regional District (CRD) is holding Zoom sessions for residents of the Southern Gulf Islands this month to get their opinions on active, public and water transportation in and between their communities.
In Q&A sessions to be held between Jan. 17 and 28, the CRD is trying to find out what the demand is for transportation on and between the Southern Gulf Islands: Galiano, Mayne, Saturna and North and South Pender islands. Residents’ feedback will be included in a transportation integration plan, which will also propose future improvements to “walking and cycling networks integrated with proposals for public transit and passenger ferry services to complement other travel.”
The first round of public engagement in 2021 found a general dissatisfaction with transportation across the islands. Residents were unhappy with the active transportation options, as well as public and water transportation. Most people take BC Ferries and drive their private vehicles, the report found, followed by walking and riding as passengers of private vehicles. Improving walking and cycling infrastructure and connections, especially for safety reasons, was a high priority for respondents.
People also emphasized the need for better public transport, especially for seniors and people who have mobility issues, and rather than a bus service they pointed out car stops, ride sharing and taxi service as preferred options. Making water transportation connect well with other modes of transportation, lining it up with school schedules, making day trips possible and making it affordable were also key takeaways from the fall engagement sessions.
Over half of those who shared their opinions with the CRD in the fall were between the ages of 55 and 74. Only four per cent of those who took part were age 24 or under.
Formulating the transportation integration plan is part of the CRD’s efforts to create a new function for the regional district. This function would be to support better mobility on and between Galiano, Mayne, Saturna and North and South Pender islands as well as possible links to Salt Spring and Sidney. Some of what the CRD could do, it stated, is fund community buses, help facilitate improvements to walking and cycling infrastructure, and other transportation alternatives for travel between the islands. The Southern Gulf Islands Community Economic Sustainability Commission (CESC) asked the CRD board to create a transportation commission in 2018 to do this kind of work.
If the CRD gets community support for its plans, a bylaw will be proposed this year to set up the service. A referendum will then be held as part of the October 2022 general election, for voters to decide on whether to establish the service.
Q&A’s are being held on Jan. 17, 18, 27 and 28 with registration in advance needed for the sessions which will take place on videoconferencing system Zoom. Visit getinvolved.crd.bc.ca/sgi-transportation to register.
A survey is also open to gather feedback on the CRD’s plans.