Friday, December 9, 2022
December 9, 2022

Viewpoint: Give the residents of Fulford their village back

By DAVID COURTNEY

In response to the Oct. 26 “No time to let up” editorial, having our elected officials, Chamber of Commerce and community as a whole advocating and campaigning for improved infrastructure and ferry service is the perfect way forward.

We are now approaching 2,200 petitioners on change.org The Fix for Route Six petition. The Patrons of Route 6 group has campaigned persistently and effectively for the new ferry terminals at Vesuvius Bay and Crofton with the introduction of a two-ferry service using the new eco-Island Class ferries nine years ahead of schedule. Of course, those who failed to support advocating and petitioning are now sitting back as per usual and saying. “Good luck with that.”

For our small group of dedicated volunteers facilitating the express wishes of 2,200 patrons, negativity and failure is not an option. The improvements to Route 6 should have been addressed 10 years ago, now we are in crisis mode. The fall of 2026 is four short years away. It’s an ambitious schedule for BC Ferries management. How do we get from here to there? Dogged persistence and a lot more campaigning.

We’ve branched out to include a Facebook page – “SSI Ferry Patrons Routes 6,4,9”. Join us in the discussion about our service and infrastructure in and around our community. The latest hot topic of discussion is the new Salish Heron serving the Southern Gulf Islands and the current weight restrictions imposed concurrent with its introduction.

In the matter of traffic gridlock at Fulford Harbour, currently when the Skeena Queen is full the traffic is backed up to Beaver Point Road. Since being introduced in 1997 the Skeena has been a steadfast workhorse and served us well. The problem is that traffic has grown over the past 25 years and the parking containment area hasn’t. Hence the traffic nightmare that unfolds during peak demand periods throughout the year.

The next campaign for ferry patrons and fellow Salt Springers is titled “Give the Residents of Fulford Harbour Their Village Back.” It’s a two-part campaign, with the first part addressing the parking containment issue to get vehicles off the road in the name of public safety. This in turn restores and enhances the village for all to enjoy, but foremost for the residents and those who transit further south to their homes. Enter some of our elected and volunteer community leaders, arms firmly crossed suggesting anything that impacts our environment is not an option. The short answer is, anything we do at Fulford Harbour will impact the environment. How we mitigate that harm is the key.

We need to survey our community on what we want using the Islands Trust and transportation ministry roads agreement of 1992 and the official community plan (2008) as it pertains to the village of Fulford Harbour as the basis and backstop. We intend on conducting that survey and presenting results to our elected leaders and to Joy MacPhail, the new chair of the BC Ferries board of directors. The improvements forecasted for Route 4 Fulford – Swartz Bay are feeble at best and more importantly five years away in the recent submission to the BC Ferries Commissioner. Does anyone who uses Route 4 relish the idea of no improvements over the next five years? As we branch out from our efforts on Route 6 and address Route 4, please consider engaging in advocating and campaigning for improvements to Route 4.

The writer heads up the Patrons of Route 6 advocacy group.

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