Ganges Hill paving plans explored

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Plans for repaving Ganges Hill were shared at last Tuesday’s Salt Spring Island Transportation Commission meeting, with not everyone happy about what they heard.

The Ministry of Transportation and Infrastructure has agreed to provide a 1.5-metre paved shoulder and a 0.5-metre gravel shoulder on both sides of the roadway on Fulford-Ganges Road between Seaview Avenue and Beddis Road in 2021. Some commissioners were disappointed that the plan did not include a wider paved area and more room for pedestrians.

Commission member Gary Lehman noted that the bike lane standard is 1.8 metres. 

“I’m sitting here because I want what’s best for Salt Spring. I don’t want the best we can get,” he said, noting that future projects like the Salish Sea Trail, which people want to see for Salt Spring, would require the higher standard. 

Capital Regional District Salt Spring engineer Allen Xu pointed out that trying to expand beyond the MoTI proposal would involve acquiring private property in some spots and would likely be prohibitively expensive. As it is, MoTI is prepared to cover all costs of the proposal.

Salt Spring’s CRD director Gary Holman said the fact that MoTI will pave the road and provide a much wider area for cyclists and pedestrians on both sides without cost to Salt Spring taxpayers was good news. MoTI has also agreed to review intersections on Fulford-Ganges Road at Beddis Road and at Drake Road, and to provide paved bus-stop landing strips along Fulford-Ganges Road at both Cusheon Lake and Blackburn roads so that bus shelters can be installed. 

CRD staff had recommended that the SSITC spend funds on a design for pedestrian/cycling improvements on another priority area of Fulford-Ganges Road, but commissioners stressed that Ganges Hill is the priority and it didn’t make sense to spend money on potential plans for other spots. Instead they recommended that a preliminary design for pedestrian infrastructure beyond what MoTI will cover be done for the west side of Ganges Hill only. 

They also passed a motion directing staff to ask MoTI to consider extending the paving project further south, potentially to the bottom of Cranberry Road. The commission could possibly commit funds or apply for a grant to cover the additional work beyond what MoTI will pay for. 

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