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.
“Moving the Ball Forward” Director's Report
by Sierra Acton, Director Area B
It has been an exciting start to 2018. In our household, we like to use the expression “moving the ball forward.” This month it really feels like the Shawnigan community is doing just that. As your Director here are just a few of the initiatives and goals rolling out.
It is exciting to announce that the Shawnigan Lake School will be working with the CVRD, the community and myself to create a working plan for the milfoil issue as we position to protect our lake. I am thrilled that they have hired an environmental firm who will help create an expert plan. This plan will become part of the guiding steps on how we can work towards protecting one of our most valued assets – the lake itself. As an Electoral Area it is extremely hard to see funds allocated to a specific community initiative which do not have direct funding. Because of this I am grateful our good neighbours are working together with our community to help us conquer one of our goals!
Even non-hockey fans would have been converted if they attended the Roger’s Hometown hockey event featuring the Cowichan Valley the 3rd weekend of January. Outdoor road hockey, indoor shiny and a parade. The NHL players signing jerseys and a mini Zamboni on which to change tires drew crowds despite the weather. Whether a fan or not you had to love hockey that weekend.
As we grow and share our community with each other, it is important to bring the village businesses together to look at short and long-term goals for the village core and its community. At the beginning of January, the village business community came together to meet with a special guest – the Manager of Economic Cowichan. Some exciting ideas were tabled and as a result proposal are emerging as explore ways to encourage thoughtful investment into our community as we leverage our assets. Shawnigan is an amazing place and it shows in the community’s dedication to constant improve.
Also, this month the CVRD hosted Gil Panolosa, the founder and chair of the board of the internationally recognized non-profit organization 8 80 Cities, based in Canada ( HYPERLINK "http://www.gpanolosa.ca" www.gpanolosa.ca). He gave a compelling and motivating presentation on what makes a place great to live in. At it’s core, the most important elements are to live in a place that increases your quality of life, your health and includes everyone. Shawnigan is doing well in some areas but we can do better. An area we can improve is in our parks as they are viewed as outdoor community centres. These are places that we share and can have ‘symptoms’ of a good place:
provide weather protected areas for recreation or even just conversation, and
safe places that they encourage the congregation of young families.
He also points out that walking is the #1 activity in the world and therefore it is very important to have lots of walking paths, both for recreation or just getting around. He has many other inspiring ideas which can be found at worldurbanparks.org.
As many of you know illegal garbage dumping is a senseless act that affects us all. Work continues as I meet with the CVRD, Shawnigan Residence Association, Mainroads and the community to help target and alleviate the issue. We can expect a full community plan emerging in the spring. As details unfold, I will report back.
The Shawnigan Research Group (SRG) continues to carry out invaluable research and to monitor the Shawnigan watershed. At this time, it is critical that the monitor of the large number of soil dumping sites with Shawnigan Lake watershed remaining ongoing. The SRG continue to work hard with the Ministry of Environment on the closure plan for the contaminated soil dump and monitor the many other illegal soil dumping sites around Shawnigan. They continuously study, question ministerial actions, write letters, consult with experts and strategize. I am extremely grateful for their input, expertise and continued support to our community, all in the name of protecting our water. It is an onerous process, but the SRG are committed to getting the contaminated soil removed and continue monitoring and testing of the Lake. The SRG have also designed a water quality testing program for Shawnigan Lake that I have been tasked to find funding for.
As you can see, many ‘balls’ have been moved forward this past month. And, on that note I better sign off and get back to work!