Editorial: Salt Spring Progress Report for 2020

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Just over a year ago the Driftwood laid out a Salt Spring Island wish list for 2020 in this space.

It included the hope for movement on the affordable housing issue, a laundromat for the island, road repaving and line painting, and ferries that run on time and aren’t perennially overloaded. 

Quite incredibly, in spite of a global pandemic throwing a wrench into the works of just about everything this year, there was progress on all of those wish-list items. A new phase of the Croftonbrook affordable housing project operated by Islanders Working Against Violence welcomed its first tenants this month. The Salt Spring Community Services’ Salt Spring Commons project is set to do the same early in 2021. Fingers are still crossed for needed funding to arrive for Meadowlane, a seniors complex on Kings Lane to be owned by the Gulf Islands Seniors Residence Association, but great progress has been made on project approvals in the last year. 

As well, the Capital Regional District just released a Salt Spring-specific Housing Needs Assessment report, which anticipates future affordable housing needs and provides some basic suggestions for meeting those needs.

The Salt Spring laundromat and soap exchange facility secured premises in Ganges and should open this year. While anticipated road repaving has been rescheduled for this year and isn’t as extensive as first hoped, many road markings were at least repainted this summer.   

The chaotic scene we experienced at Vesuvius and Crofton ferry terminals in 2019 vanished in 2020. That was partly because ferry traffic dropped  due to COVID-19, but also because BC Ferries heard community concerns and wisely replaced the Quinitsa with the larger Bowen Queen during spring and summer months. Ferries serving the multi-stop Southern Gulf Islands Route 9 between Tsawwassen and Long Harbour continued to be late on higher-traffic days, of course, which is simply the nature of that complicated transportation beast.

COVID-19 is still impacting every facet of life on Salt Spring Island and beyond. But if local priorities can make as much progress as they did in the tumultuous year that was 2020, then we are optimistic the same kind of measurable forward movement can occur in 2021. 

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