LTC seeks funding to plan safer connection for non-motorists to ferry terminal

Rachelle Stein-Wotten

Rachelle Stein-Wotten Local Journalism Initiative Reporter

Wednesday, November 18 2020

The Gabriola Local Trust Committee submitted a grant application to the Union of BC Municipalities to engage in planning for an active transportation connector from the ferry terminal to the under construction Village Way Trail.

The LTC has applied for the maximum $10,000 via UBCM’s Active Transportation Planning Program, which provides funding for areas with populations below 25,000 “to incorporate or enhance active transportation components of formal planning documents, including research, consultation and policy development.”

UBCM defines active transportation as “all human-powered forms of commuting,” walking and cycling being the most common. The steeply inclined ferry hill and connecting North Road,  Taylor Bay Road and Easthom Road see a flurry of activity for commuters to contend with: a busy ferry line-up, community and school buses and a narrow shoulder with no crosswalks, sidewalks or cycling lanes are some of the challenges.

“It’s that convergence point at the ferry terminal, which currently is just not safe for people who are using mobility aids, pushing strollers or riding bikes. It’s not safe for people driving vehicles either because they don’t want to have the uncertainty of not knowing what’s happening,” said Gabriola Trustee Scott Colbourne, who prior to his trustee role advocated for improved active transportation as a member of the Healthy Transportation Network and the Gabriola Bike Club.

The LTC intends to partially build off the Official Community Plan, which states transportation objectives of providing a network of bicycle routes and encouraging provision of safe pedestrian access along the Island’s main roadways. 

A number of stakeholders will be involved in the planning and consultation process, including the Ministry of Transportation and Infrastructure, Snuneymuxw First Nation, BC Ferries and the community at large.

”There are so many different players involved that the idea of the grant is to get the project to the point where we can then apply for infrastructure funds to actually build or construct something,” Colbourne said. “This is the first step to get to the point where we’re shovel-ready.”

The LTC has already received $2,500 from the Gabriola Chamber of Commerce. Julie Sperber, the chamber’s executive director, said the connector “would positively impact both tourism and community economic development for the island.” The chamber holds a service agreement with the Regional District of Nanaimo to provide tourism and community economic development for Gabriola.

The RDN has also committed funds. At the Oct. 27 RDN Board of Directors meeting, Electoral Area B Director Vanessa Craig put forward a motion that, should the LTC be successful in their UBCM grant application, $5,000 in Area B Community Works funds be awarded to the LTC “to bolster their funding if they do indeed receive the grant.”

Following that allocation to the LTC, for 2020 Area B would have $127,000 remaining in Community Works funds, which are allocated to electoral areas and municipalities via the Federal Gas Tax Revenue Transfer Program. 

If the UBCM grant application is unsuccessful, Colbourne said they will pursue other upcoming grant opportunities.