Editorial: Seeing [road lines] is believing

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Salt Spring Islanders are used to complaining about the state of the island’s roads, and for good reason.

Paving of our main “highway” and shoulders is overdue, potholes and crumbled road edges are rampant, and our road lines are often faded beyond usefulness. Many people state they will not drive at night, especially in winter months, due to the perceived dangers.

When Minister of Transportation Claire Trevena visited the island this spring, she commented that she frequently hears from Gulf Islands residents about their dissatisfaction with road conditions and maintenance.

The Driftwood recently reported from transportation ministry sources that Salt Spring was due to receive about $50,000 worth of road line painting this year, “sometime” before the end of the summer. In the past that timing would mean “just before Halloween.”

That’s why it was surprising to see yellow lines magically appear on Fulford-Ganges Road and beyond last Thursday morning, and white fog lines joining them on Tuesday morning.

We thank the powers that be in the transportation ministry and any other government officials who contributed to this quasi-miraculous event.

At the same time, repairs to Walker Hook Road, which suffered a major failure in one area last winter, are also well underway, proceeding sooner than expected.

Could we be seeing a tangible shift in how Salt Spring is treated when it comes to road maintenance issues, or is this not really unusual?

At the risk of becoming too complacent, though, we can’t help press for the transportation ministry to find a way to pave the road between Ganges and Fulford, and with a decent-sized shoulder. A promise to do that was part of the provincial government’s “offer of assistance” made to Salt Spring as an inducement to incorporate last fall, but it is something that should be done regardless of our governance choice.

With increased property assessments in the past two years, the provincial government should have received a nice windfall from our “rural” community. Spending some of that money on an upgraded Fulford-Ganges Road would be the right thing to do. Letting the island’s main road continue to deteriorate is irresponsible.

In the meantime, we will enjoy those bright road lines — for as long as they last.

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