Letter: Tree and Power lines down on Taylor Bay Road

Tuesday, January 2 2018

Residing in the Taylor Bay Road area, my wife and I were among a number of people who were caught on the wrong side of a downed power line and tree which blocked Taylor Bay road just beyond the campground - Friday evening, Dec. 29. We arrived before 10:00 pm and The Gabriola Fire Dept. plus RCMP were already at the scene and road blocks in place. It seemed there was enough time for BCHydro to respond that evening, but apparently they would not be sending crews here until the next morning.

We had options where we could stay the night by turning around, but instead navigated the Yogi Loop walking trail to reach our home on Malaspina. Pets, you know. (Our thanks to Jethro Baker of the GVFD for his concern for our well being. We had exchanged phone numbers at the road block and Jethro called to check on us just as we reached our steps at home.)

Others had much greater problems; some attending events at the Roxy, spending an evening at the Surf, or otherwise visiting on the wrong side of that downed tree, were blocked and/or stranded overnight. The difficulties that presented will make for a number of good stories, for sure, but more important than inconveniences was the lack of access for emergency crews, should they need to respond to a call to save lives or property. Any incident which required fire dept., paramedic or police help could certainly have turned much worse due to this temporary isolation.

Rather than pointing fingers, I raise the issue as a discussion point for our community. My thoughts later drifted to considering what might address this particular problem.

While continuing our walk home on Taylor Bay Road, we met an acquaintance travelling toward the boat and updated him on the circumstances. This retired gentleman was himself a man capable of assessing and managing a solution to get the road open, the major consideration at hand, which led me to thinking that our Island has the personnel to respond to similar events, to mitigate the potential consequences this isolation could bring. Perhaps BC Hydro could engage in a stand-by contract that would allow them to turn over certain problems to local competent, available help. Just an idea.

I am grateful for the presence of so many local people who already do respond to difficult situations. And, while not a total fan of BC Hydro, (as one who resisted the smart meter fiasco, and entertains the idea of living off the grid) I do acknowledge that they have been here for us time and time again. In spite of what seems like a response earning them low marks during this recent incident, crews have worked well into the wee hours to restore power, and road access, many times during our years on Gabriola. I do wonder why Dec. 29 went a different way.

Side notes: on Saturday a nice couple- strangers to me -stopped to offer a ride while I walked to recover my vehicle, parked by Ivory Way. Thank you Sharon and Murray. As to who cherry picked about ten feet of uncured firewood the next day; I couldn’t say. Is that even legal?

~ Jim Bowman