On March 6th FAC members Heather O’Sullivan, Peggy Richardson and Steve Earle met with Darin Guenette, John MacDonald and Lance Lomax of BC Ferries and Stu Johnson of the Ministry of Transportation & Infrastructure (MoTI). The meeting had been called by BCF with the primary objective of discussing the FAC’s proposal to re-route the ferry line-up. Other matters were also discussed.
We explained that our key issue is safety in the ferry line-up, and that we do not think it’s possible to make it safe on Taylor Bay Road. There was discussion about U-turns, the width and curvature of Taylor Bay Road, the lack of room for a median barrier, the likely futility and high cost of flexible median separators, the slope of the shoulder on the west side of the road and the instability of the bank.
Stu indicated that MoTI have no intention of changing anything, that there is no money available and that he was not aware that this is a big issue for a majority of Gabriolans. He said that a study would be needed before anything could be done.
With support from BCF we explained that this is a significant issue, that it is a major topic of conversation in many venues, and that at the November FAC meeting there were community members that supported our proposal for a change and none that did not support it. While there are other road issues, everybody on Gabriola is affected by the ferry line-up, even those who are not lining up for the ferry.
Stu said that the only effective way to get MoTI’s attention, so that a study could be initiated, would be to write to the Minister, and that the message would filter down from there. He said that it would help to get community groups, local government and other authorities (e.g., RCMP) to write as well, and that an expression of support from individual community members would also have some impact. FAC members will progress this.
North Road/Taylor Bay Road intersection
MoTI is going to be doing some major work at the intersection of Taylor Bay Road and North Road., starting either late this month or during April. This will include replacement of the culvert on Taylor Bay Road and re-grading of the last few tens of metres of Taylor Bay Road so as to reduce the steep up-hill grade at the intersection itself. Taylor Bay Road will be kept open throughout the project.
Descanso Bay parking
John MacDonald suggested that we try to get some community feedback on the problem of long-term parkers at the BCF Descanso Bay parking lot. He wants to know what the community thinks the time limit should be (e.g., 12 h, 24 h, 48 h …). Once an appropriate limit has been determined, BCF will install signage and will patrol the lot. The FAC agreed to carry out a community survey.
John MacDonald said that BCF is planning to move ahead with two medical assured loading spaces at the front of the Descanso Bay line-up, and has been working with MoTI to determine lane markings and signage. He asked the FAC to work with the community and with health officials to create protocols for issuance of assured loading passes.