Editorial: Harbour walking

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A  viable seaside boardwalk in Ganges Harbour has long been considered a desirable community amenity.

Starting with the original vision in the 1980s, the concept gained widespread community, business and government support, but was unfortunately not completed at that time. Creation of a multi-agency committee and $150,000 in gas tax funding provided by just-retired CRD director Wayne McIntyre in 2016 energized a revival of the boardwalk idea, which is now referred to as the “harbour walk” project.

When some of the funds were spent on technical assessments, it seemed possible the verdict would be that the existing structure should be scrapped, or that other geotechnical, environmental or archeological issues would make it a no-go. Instead the findings by various professionals and summarized by consultant and engineer Wayne Lee were that, except for needing more information about the integrity of a few areas, there are “no substantial archeological, marine ecological or geotechnical constraints” to constructing a harbour walk as originally planned 30 years ago.

What comes next got a preliminary exploration at a two-hour Ganges Harbour Walk Steering Committee meeting on Friday. Committee members had different ways of expressing their ideas, but they were in the end quite similar. Cooperation and a need for all parties to be working towards a common goal were stressed, and rightfully so.

The community interest in public waters should take precedence over adjacent private interests, and government funds should not be expended on the project if that is not truly the case. But it only makes sense to include upland property owners in all plans and discussions not only because their consent is required but as an integral part of an overall harbour plan, as suggested by CRD staff.

Interestingly, a Ganges Harbour plan was on the Salt Spring Local Trust Committee’s project list several years ago, and the Harbour Authority of Salt Spring Island has also undertaken a detailed harbour-use planning process. It’s an important step to take.

Consultant Lee puts it another way in recommending the group “promote a locally focused and consensual approach, to the successful completion of this valuable community asset.”

While the harbour walk road has been bumpy to date, the current committee is at least on the right track, although with many planks still needed before the end is in sight.

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