Islanders call for a walkable Ganges
The call for a more pedestrian-friendly experience in Ganges is being heard around Salt Spring with local community organizations presenting several options for exploration over the past months.
The Salt Spring Transportation Commission voted on Feb. 24 to endorse a petition calling for a reduced speed zone throughout Ganges village. The petition, which was started by commissioner Myna Lee Johnstone as a private citizen’s initiative, calls for 30 km/hr speed limits on Lower Ganges/Fulford-Ganges roads from the intersection of Brinkworthy to Alders roads.
As confirmed at the Feb. 24 meeting, the commission’s top priorities for 2020 are completing the first phase of a safe pathway on Lower Ganges Road, from Central to Baker Road, and the North Ganges Transportation Plan network.
The commission is additionally working on pedestrian/cycling improvements on Ganges Hill as part of a ministry repaving project. While the Ministry of Transportation and Infrastructure has committed to a paved 1.2-metre shoulder on both sides of the road, the commission is looking into whether there could be an extension on the one side to make things easier for cyclists.
“On the uphill side it would be useful and that’s what staff are negotiating with MoTI: a., is it feasible, and b., if there’s an incremental cost, what that would be,” CRD director Gary Holman told the commission. “That will be over to us, and I’ve already indicated to the ministry and to staff that I’m willing to provide some gas tax funding to support those incremental costs.”
Another item on the commission’s priority list is starting to facilitate low-cost/no-cost fixes to address things like crosswalk painting and mobility ramp access. A new committee to work on GASP — the Ganges Accessibility and Safety Plan — has already created a report identifying many of those issues downtown. The members now intend to get to work asking private business owners to fix problems that are on their properties, and to make recommendations for ministry repairs in areas that are clearly on its right-of-way.
These initiatives fit well with the future Ganges envisioned by Island Pathways, a group that frequently works with SSITC under the Partners Creating Pathways umbrella.
Member Bob MacKie gave a presentation at Island Pathways’ annual general meeting in February on Walkable Ganges, a project he has been working on with Elisa Rathje. Walkable Ganges is a visioning document that asks the community to imagine a future downtown village with fewer cars, and maps out a scenario for getting there.
For more on this story, see the March 11, 2019 issue of the Gulf Islands Driftwood newspaper, or subscribe online.