How do you get around?

Provincial government begins planning for next 10-year transportation plan

The provincial government wants to know how you get from point A to point B (and maybe to point C, too).

On Monday, Sept. 15, Jordan Sturdy, Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Transportation Todd Stone, was in Campbell River to meet with various community officials and discuss transportation within and between communities on Vancouver Island.

The series of stakeholder meetings, hosted by Sturdy on behalf of the Transportation Minister, will be attended by elected local government officials, First Nations and other community leaders, including local Chambers of Commerce and port and airport authorities, and will take place in seven Vancouver Island centres (Victoria, Duncan, Nanaimo, Port Alberni, Courtenay-Comox and Port Hardy are the others).

According to Sturdy, the ministry and Premier have determined that Vancouver island is in dire need of a re-examination of its transportation infrastructure, an has made the region a priority for improvements. This series of meetings is the first step in determining those priorities and addressing those service and infrastructure gaps.

“Every community is different, and therefore has different needs, some of which aren’t being fulfilled,” said Sturdy. “This consultation is to determine where each community feels it fits within the big picture (of transportation) on the Island, as well as getting right down to the details of improvements they feel need to be made within those communities.”

Campbell River mayor Walter Jakeway was in attendance at Monday’s meeting, and said he felt most of the ideas he brought to the table were well received.

Jakeway raised the possibility of a BC Ferry from the lower mainland (Tsawwassen or Horseshoe Bay) to the terminal at Port Hardy, which he said would encourage more tourism to the North Island region, but also said he had little confidence that particular idea would go anywhere.

He was, however, encouraged by the response to his proposals for a connection to be made between Evergreen Road and the Inland Highway and a transit system of some kind between the two new hospitals.

“They say that these new hospitals are actually one hospital on two sites,” Jakeway said, “so it would be good if transportation between them could be easier for the public. In terms of the interchange, I was told they’d head out there (to the end of Evergreen) and look around and see what it would take to do it, so that’s a step in the right direction, anyway.”

Jakeway said he’s been talking for a while about a “Metro-Mid-Island” theory for integrating the various communities behind one plan, and transportation would be a big part of that. “We should be thinking about our area in broader terms,” he said. “One of the keys to that is to make moving between areas easier.”

Jakeway said he also raised the issue of there being no public floatplane dock or helicopter pad anywhere near downtown, as well as the need for more RV-friendly campsites, and thought those suggestions were taken under advisement, as well.

After all the community consultation meetings have taken place, the information garnered will be taken back to Minister Stone to begin the planning on the ministry’s 10-year plan. The development of that plan will involve another round of community and public consultation before the final strategy is implemented and the priorities of the government, in terms of transportation, are set through the end of this decade and into the next.

Everything from marine infrastructure and airport facilities to highway maintenance, cycling routes and traffic lights are being examined.

“One of the things that we were reminded of, that we sometimes forget,” said Sturdy of the Campbell River meeting, “was that Campbell River is ‘mid-Island,’ not ‘north-Island,’ as we sometimes consider it, so there’s a great potential for it to be a great transportation hub. It’s almost smack in the middle between Victoria and Port Hardy, and sometimes people forget that.”