Harbour walk committee considers next step

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If man can go to the moon, Salt Spring Islanders can complete the Ganges boardwalk project.

That was the inspiring image Ganges Harbour Walk Steering Committee chair Matt Steffich used to open a committee meeting on Friday morning.

He quoted President John F. Kennedy, who stated in 1961 that his country would send a man to the moon and return him safely “not because it’s easy, but because it’s hard.” Steffich said he remembers that every day when he works on the project.

“I keep that in the front of my mind and it drives me forward . . . I believe we are a lot closer to finishing this project than we think,” he said.

Friday’s meeting was the first held by the committee, which operates under the CRD’s Parks and Recreation Commission, since February. It was waiting for four technical project studies to be completed and CRD staff to have time to create an accompanying report and recommendations.

Committee members were pleased with the study results, which assessed the existing structures, plus geotechnical, ecological and archeological issues that would need to be addressed. 

“There is no deal breaker in this report,” said Steffich.

The group then discussed how to proceed. Committee members represent PARC, the Salt Spring Transportation Commission, Harbour Authority of Salt Spring, Salt Spring Chamber of Commerce and the Salt Spring Local Trust Committee. John Woodward, a member of the Farmers’ Institute, which owns a sliver of property on the harbour walk route and served on the original boardwalk/seawalk committee in the 1980s, made a presentation that urged continued work on achieving the vision.

A CRD staff report had suggested that the project “be held in abeyance until the foreshore right-of-way acquisition is determined” and that the committee “recommend to the Islands Trust to pursue continued engagement with the upland foreshore owners and community to develop the vision and community planning goals, objectives, and policies for the harbour area.”

“I just don’t like this word ‘abeyance,”” said trustee Peter Grove, representing the Islands Trust. “It sounds like grinding everything to a halt.”

CRD senior manager Karla Campbell said that was not the case, but stressed it was important for committee members to first engage in discussions with the four upland property owners in the area.

For more on this story, see the Dec. 12, 2018 issue of the Gulf Islands Driftwood newspaper, or subscribe online.

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