The articles on road construction and maintenance in the last Shingle, have comments that are worthy of some explanation.
One of the underlying problems regarding the maintenance and construction of roads on Gabriola, is an agreement between the Islands Trust and the Ministry of Highways signed in 1997 (or thereabouts). The Islands Trust demanded that the roads on Gabriola be maintained in the lowest standards possible and that is what we get. Potholes have to be bigger than the next designation up before being fixed, roads that are losing their sealcoat only get patched and patches get repatched. The repatching is what is going on at present. They are repatching the failed sealcoat surfaces and dirt roads get to stay dirt.
According to some comments published in The Shingle sealcoating is maintenance-free. This is not true at all. Some Gabriola roads are going back to horse and buggy quality, with sections of roads going back to dirt. And some are so filled with potholes that in a couple of years they will be very rough indeed.
The Highways office in Nanaimo has reported that the reason they do not fix Taylor Bay Road, is because the Islands Trust agreement restricts their ability to properly rebuild the road, because in order to rebuild they need to widen the road, which is restricted by the agreement.
Anyone interested should get a copy of the agreement from the Nanaimo office, where I got it.
Thanks Jeremy, as per our editorial policy we asked our local trustees if they wanted to respond in this edition. Trustee Sheila Malcolmson replies below. ~ Ed
The protocol agreements between Highways and the Islands Trust say nothing of the sort. All three are posted here: www.islandstrust.bc.ca/tc/agreements.cfm (under Provincial Agreements, look for 1996 and 1992). In the 10 years of annual meetings in my time as trustee the ministry never said this agreement prevents widening or repair on Taylor Bay Road.
The agreement does allow more narrow roads than on the mainland, and allows some gravel instead of pavement, in keeping with the rural nature of the islands, but never at the expense of safety or proper construction. The Province remains the final authority in all these matters.
There is absolutely a problem with some roads not having been built at all – because the Province failed to make the developer build a proper road when it approved some island subdivisions. This is a genuine hardship to islanders who bought these lots, who didn’t understand that the Province won’t maintain a road unless it was already built to the provincial standard, but this has nothing to do with the Islands Trust agreement and largely relates to subdivisions before the Islands Trust was created in 1974.
Sheila Malcolmson, Chair, Islands Trust Council, Gabriola Island Local Trustee
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