All Our Roads Lead to the Ministry
by Sierra Acton- Director Area B
The most common concerns I receive from the community are road related. People are concerned about speed, pedestrian safety and confusing intersections. As such, I usually get many requests for speed bumps, concrete partitions and sidewalks (to name a few.) As an unincorporated area our roads are under the jurisdiction of the Ministry of Transportation and Infrastructure (MOTI.) The Ministry maintains, builds and has jurisdiction over all our roads. The ministry owns and maintains 71,000 km of roads in BC. Unfortunately, when it comes to maintenance etc, we are competing for funds with all the unincorporated areas in BC based on condition and needs. None of this will change until our area is incorporated.
The Ministry of Transportation can not restrict any type of vehicle from using it's roads, which are either classified as a highway or a rural highway. That is right, our roads are considered rural highways. MOTI is responsible for setting the regulations, the speed, and permitting road signs. Our roads where originally designed for speeds of 80 km/h. Over time our area has become more populated and, although we would all like safer roads, they are still governed by the ministry's guidelines. For example, the guidelines that set the minimum shoulder width; which can be narrow or even unpaved, with no sidewalks, and minimal signage. More populated areas can get a decrease in speed, but it will probably never be slow enough to satisfy everyone. Our roads under the MOTI guidelines can NOT include speed bumps, 30km zones (except elementary schools), sidewalks, and generally anything that could be a liability or create additional maintenance. What we get from the ministry is maintained roads, snow removal and a few traffic calming devices (e.g. delineators and speed feedback boards.) These guidelines create the toolbox from which we can draw upon for our roads.
Delineators have been installed along Renfrew Rd. Clearly they are not a perfect solution, but they are one of the few options in the toolbox. A few residence have expressed their dissatisfaction with the delineators, but the majority of the feedback has been positive. Although maintenance over the winter might be challenging, I am thankful that MOTI was willing to try something new in our community. Others have questioned why we, as a community, accept the standards of the ministry. However, until this area is incorporated, I see no solution other than working with the ministry, rather than against them. I value our relationship with the MOTI representative for our area and welcome any feedback from the community that can help make our roads safer.
Another component to our roads is “speeding” and the solution to that issue starts with each and every one of us. It's easy to blame outsiders for the speed of vehicles on our roads, but the bulk of the traffic is our friends and neighbours. Can we create a culture of sharing the road? Can we slowdown and leave home 5 minutes earlier to get where we are going without speeding? Can we treat our roads like “residential roads” and set our own comfortable speed limit so we can all share and enjoy the roads?
Our local representative from MOTI has agreed to come to a Director's Meeting to answer any additional questions the community might have: stay tuned for a date set in the near future. Alternatively, should you wish to get involved in a campaign to safely share the roads, please contact South Cowichan Community Policing: southcowichancommunitypolicing.ca and for common questions on for MOTI go to http://www.th.gov.bc.ca/popular-topics/faq.htm.