Saturday, June 22, 2024
June 22, 2024

Editorial: Missing terminal upgrade piece

If good things come to those who wait, we were hopeful that whatever was coming to the neighbourhood around the Vesuvius Bay ferry terminal would be very, very good. 

BC Ferries has lifted the lid on some planned changes to infrastructure and layout at Salt Spring’s westernmost access point, with improvements for drivers that might help the neighbours a little, too. Additional holding lanes could get a few more cars off the village’s main thoroughfare, and a few more parking spaces in the lot might unclog some side streets. Sorting out a drop-off and pick-up zone might organize the congestion chaos that begins every spring and persists later and later each fall. 

And we know Vesuvius needs improvement — because the problem is hardly new. Like the shortage of affordable housing, islanders identified the growing traffic issues in and around Vesuvius years ago. But unfortunately, and again perhaps like affordable housing, the steps being taken today would have been a great idea a decade ago — and we’re still missing a big part of the puzzle. 

The re-tooling at the terminal stems from a 2017 traffic safety review that identified four “key issues” — consultant-speak for “problems” — happening there. The plans for construction starting nearly a decade later address just three — namely those surrounding vehicles navigating an increasingly crowded landscape. The fourth and thus-far unaddressed “key issue” was the lack of pedestrian and cyclist accommodation. 

“It is expected that as traffic volumes increase,” read that safety review, “the level of exposure for vulnerable road users (e.g. pedestrians and cyclists) will increase.” 

Setting aside the profound safety issue, it feels like BC Ferries is addressing traffic congestion with perhaps the only management technique that we know doesn’t work, at least in the long run: building more lanes. 

Like planting a tree, the best time to have improved non-vehicle infrastructure for visitors and commuters was 20 years ago, and the second-best time is today. With BC Ferries’ priorities seemingly still laser-focused on cars, it looks like we’re not planting any time soon. 

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