Salt Spring Public Asked to Not travel on Closed Roads

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As repairs to Salt Spring Island roads continue after record rainfall, Acting Salt Spring Fire Chief Jamie Holmes said it’s disheartening to see people driving through barricades on the three roads still closed to traffic.  

Some roads have been deemed not safe by engineers, Holmes said during a Thursday interview, and they could still fail due to overuse, which could then prove dangerous for first responders trying to get through. DriveBC is still showing three road closures as of Thursday evening: Isabella Point Road in both directions between Musgrave and Roland roads, Fulford-Ganges Road between Blackburn and Horel West roads, and North End Road between Acheson Road and Fairway Drive.

While drivers see water drained from the road and may think it’s safe to cross, Holmes said Emcon Services and the Ministry of Transportation and Infrastructure had come out and determined it isn’t safe to do so.

“Sure one or two cars may go through, but if that extra traffic on the road makes the road fail, those one or two passes we could have done maybe with an emergency vehicle if somebody really needed it,” he said. “It could fail from overuse of people who didn’t really need to cross that area.” 

After a mudslide on North End Road, one lane was open, yet the bank was “still unstable, there’s still moisture on the ground and rain is still coming down and that bank can still let go. So it was . . . closed off for people’s safety,” Holmes noted. 

While he said he has sympathy for those who are cut off from the rest of the island by road, such as residents in the Isabella Point area, he urged other people to take the alternate routes if they can.

Holmes said it was “disheartening and disappointing” that firefighters had to go back a number of times and put road barricades back in place after people had moved them to get through.

“People were simply putting others in danger because they didn’t want to drive 10 or 15 or even 20 minutes farther. When you look at everything that happened in southern B.C. over that time, a 10-minute inconvenience is, you know what? We got off really lucky.” 

Crews are still working on road repairs, and ferry travellers should be aware that heavy trucks bringing needed material to the island will be given priority on the Fulford-Swartz Bay sailing and delays may result. The Driftwood has reached out to the province and Emcon Services for more details. For the time being, the most up-to-date information can be found on the DriveBC website

During heavy rains that caused road floods, washouts and power outages Monday, the fire department was able to get through to all of their nine calls, Holmes said. Once roads started failing the fire department also began planning for how they could attend calls under such circumstances.

Holmes also urged people to get in contact with the emergency program on the island, which is divided into PODS that dispense emergency information to their neighbourhoods. To find out who their neighbourhood POD contact is, people can private message the Salt Spring Island Emergency Program on Facebook or email Ssidepc1@crd.bc.ca with their street address. 

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