The Ministry of Transportation and Infrastructure is cracking down on Salt Spring businesses that make use of its road right-of-ways in their operations, with at least two locations receiving notice the practice will not be tolerated after Oct. 31.
Beddis Road Garage is one location that has been notified that cars will no longer be permitted to park on the roadside, after a visit from ministry staff last week. Owner Erik Lundstrom was warned that cars could be towed without notice starting Nov. 1, at the expense of the garage.
Other locations where cars may be towed include Rainbow Road and Lower Ganges Road north of the Rainbow Road intersection.
The ministry said it is acting due to road safety concerns.
“Public safety is always the ministry’s top priority,” a ministry spokesperson told the Driftwood. “Staff were made aware of two instances on Salt Spring Island where personal property was obstructing provincial right of ways and leading to safety issues. The ministry issued notices under the Transportation Act to remove the property from provincial land.”
Vehicles parked on the right-of-way have provoked tension among islanders in general over recent weeks, including two public cries for action on the Salt Spring Community Discussion Forum.
Daron Wall posted a complaint about the “used car lot” that has sprung up on Upper Ganges Road above Ganges Marina, despite no-parking signs posted there.
“More than once I have seen near collisions because of other vehicles stopped there that can’t pull completely off of the road, forcing vehicles that pass the stopped car to cross the centre line into the oncoming lane,” Wall wrote.
Other commenters noted the situation can make it dangerous for pedestrians to navigate through that area.
Another complaint arose about a truck parked on the side of Fulford-Ganges Road that was blocking visibility at an intersection.
Others have spoken in favour of protecting the freedoms that islanders are used to enjoying, or for the enforcement of much bigger problem areas first. Eric Booth wrote to the ministry staff and various elected officials, with the letter copied to the Driftwood, to demand the ferry traffic that often blocks entire lanes of the road at Fulford and Vesuvius villages be addressed before a serious incident occurs.
“Given MoTI is enforcing against private individuals, I would appreciate it if you could all please explain why these individuals are being discriminated against, since the largest encroacher onto the MoTI highways themselves, not the sides of highways, is the BC Ferries corporation with their now constant parking of their customer traffic in the traffic lanes at Fulford and Vesuvius,” Booth wrote.
Booth pointed out that any impediment to traffic flow on a highway that results in a one-lane situation requires two flaggers to safely direct traffic around the impediment, according to B.C. law.
“Given, however, the nature of BC Ferries customers parking on the highways, the situation is abysmally unsafe,” he said.
“I am putting the recipients of this letter on notice that should any traffic accidents, injuries, or deaths occur at either location, directly or indirectly, all parties will be held liable for damages due to their participation in their refusal, as public servants and/or elected officials, to enforce the traffic laws of British Columbia.”