Trust asked to change roadways agreement with Highways ministry

Derek Kilbourn

Sounder News

Tuesday, July 3 2018

A group of islanders involved with the Village Vision movement are lobbying the Islands Trust to change a memorandum of understanding (MOU) that dates back to 1992.

They are being told by the Islands Trust that to do so could take three or four years, or longer.

Jim Ramsay, speaking on behalf of the group, made the verbal request of the Gabriola Local Trust Committee recently.

He pointed out that whatever requests are made by islanders, the provincial Ministry of Transportation and Infrastructure (MOTI) is bound by that Trust-wide memorandum to keep roadways at a “rural” standard.

For many roads on the Gulf Islands, this means no shoulders for cyclists or pedestrians to use adjacent to the active driving lane.

Ramsay said what should be done is an alteration of the agreement to create a mechanism for local Trust Committees and the respective Regional Districts in consultation with local groups to be able to enhance roadways - for pedestrians and cyclists - in their communities.

“I think this would garner support throughout the Trust.”

Altering the agreement with the Ministry will not be a simple task though, according to the LTC members and Trust staff.

The agreement applies to all the islands in the Trust Area, except Bowen Island, which is its own municipality. As such, it would mean having the entire Trust Council sign off on changing the agreement, not just the Gabriola Local Trust Committee.

Laura Busheikin is the Denman Island Local Trustee, as well as Islands Trust Council Vice Chair and Chair of  Gabriola. She said the information she has from senior staff is that it would fall into the work of a Trust Committee that is looking at better coordination of services.

“Roads is a part of that. This is a big project - Trust-wide - but then we have to talk to each island.  

“Every island has items of major frustration and minor frustration with MOTI.”

The advice from staff was to get this project on the next strategic plan.

“The good news is staff seemed interested in grabbing a hold of this - but it will be a bigger project that will take three to four years.”

She pointed out that in the San Juan Islands, the government owns the roads, taking care of their own version of MOTI. 

To do that, in the Islands Trust, she said, “would involve a big shift - it would be huge.”