MOTI Minister acknowledges island roads have been ignored for 16 years

Derek Kilbourn

Sounder News

Tuesday, June 5 2018

The current Minister of Transportation and Infrastructure (MOTI) says there is a definite need for there to be more attention paid to roadways on the islands.

Minister Claire Trevena (seen left) was speaking after meeting with Gabriolans on island this past Wednesday, May 23. (Derek Kilbourn photo)

Roadways have two streams of budgets. There is a maintenance budget, which funds the contract currently paid to EMCON to maintain the current roads.

Then there is the capital budget, which covers upgrades or major paving projects.

For the past ten years, when asked about if there would be budgeting for capital projects on Gabriola, the answer from MOTI was consistently, “nothing is planned for Gabriola for the next ten years.”

Hearing that, Minister Trevena said, “we have to make sure that we’re funding our rural roads. 

“The island roads have been starved for a number of years.”

As Trevena pointed out, living on Quadra Island she is aware of the condition of the roads on islands.

Whether it is roads sluffing down hills; or disappearing into broken asphalt and gravel, she knows there has been a problem with getting roads dealt with in island communities.

“This is something I am having constant discussions about - the rural island roads have been neglected for many years now.”

When asked if MOTI is having to pay fares on BC Ferries to bring crews, equipment, and supplies over to the islands, Trevena said that is absolutely true.

Which means the cost per kilometer of paving a road on the islands goes up compared to paving a foot of roadway on Vancouver Island or the Lower Mainland.

“It further impacts being a ferry reliant community. The Ministry is like any other organization - they have to build in the cost of moving materials onto the island they are working - for maintenance it is in the contracts - but the long-term work, it is something we have to look at.

“BC Ferries is an arms length organization.

“There is a realization that our island roads have been underserved for a number of years - we have roads that are deteriorating - the islands have been really ignored for the last 16 years.”

Asked how she can ensure budgets are fairly allocating monies to islands, Trevena said, “I have made sure there is more money going into rural roads province-wide. 

“How it is then allocated - the Ministry staff know where the priorities are for the minister. I leave that [allocation] to staff.”