Editorial: Stop the eroding roads

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When it comes to the state of roads on Salt Spring Island, Walker’s Hook Road has been the ultimate problem child for decades.

Several winters have seen the seashore-side bank eroded and road users’ safety compromised. Years ago residents and local government officials pressed the transportation ministry to give Walker’s Hook Road a proper fix, but only Band-aids were applied. Then when the 600 and 700 blocks of the road seriously gave way in January of 2018, a presumably long-term repair was undertaken and completed over a lengthy period. That required a road closure and subsequent detour in place for much of the year, along with re-routing of Salt Spring Transit bus service. The latest section to let go in recent heavy rains is just a bit further south of the section repaired in 2018. 

Once again the call has gone out for a permanent fix to the woes of this latest eroding section of Walker Hook Road. Saanich North and the Islands MLA Adam Olsen said Gulf Islands road conditions have definitely been flagged as an issue needing attention and he has reached out to new Transportation Minister Rob Fleming for a meeting. 

Except for the Walker’s Hook slip and slide, Salt Spring roads appeared to hold up remarkably well following successive days of rain in recent weeks. Better ditch and culvert maintenance by the island’s road contractor could be one factor in that outcome.  

But with climate-change forecasts indicating that Gulf Islands winters will become rainier as the years go on, and with certain problem areas screaming for attention, it will take more than routine preventative measures to keep island roads intact.

In 2018 the Ministry of Transportation and Infrastructure directed long-overdue resources to the 600 and 700 blocks of Walker’s Hook Road. A similar assessment and rehabilitation effort needs to take place for the rest of the road before someone is injured or killed after the next inevitable deluge.  

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