Editorial: Close the car lot

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Walking north of Ganges and up Rainbow Road has gotten a whole lot safer since completion of North Ganges Transportation Plan phase-2 work.

Approved by referendum in 2014, it’s a great addition to Salt Spring’s ever-growing pathway infrastructure created with volunteer and government resources. Now that the work is done, it’s hard not to notice nearby areas where it’s still worth one’s life to travel on foot or by bicycle. One of those is so glaring because it is just across the road from the recent improvements on Lower Ganges Road, on the strip that is locally known as the “Ganges car lot.” It’s the place where islanders have for years parked vehicles they want to sell. 

Two years ago, the Ministry of Transportation and Infrastructure, which owns that part of Ganges roadside, declared it was cracking down on the practice of cars being parked on the side of the road 24/7. Vehicles left there would be towed away, the ministry declared. While people seemed to heed the warning for a short time, the area was back to being a full-blown car lot in no time at all. Then this summer at least one camperized vehicle parked in the area was clearly being lived in, before it was abandoned earlier this fall, and then the subject of a fire last week. As an appropriate commentary on the whole situation, a “for sale” sign was then added to the empty licence plate spot. The burned-out wreck was towed away on Monday.   

Last week the Salt Spring Island Transportation Commission put the harbour side of Lower Ganges Road, which includes the car lot area, on a priority planning list for 2021, among other projects. It is an important piece of the Ganges safety puzzle, but until that work is funded and finished — which won’t be any time soon — the whole picture would be dramatically improved if that area was kept clear of vehicles that are either for sale, being lived in or abandoned. 

The transportation ministry told the Driftwood on Friday that “Public safety is always the ministry’s top priority” and that “Ministry right-of-way is not intended to be used for selling anything, and vehicles are included in this.” 

We urge islanders to help make travelling north of Ganges safer on both sides of the road by heeding the MoTI directive, and urge the MoTI and RCMP to work together to ensure everyone gets the same message. 

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