The Gold River Highway is the main connector between the west coast communities and Campbell River. Photo by Binny Paul/ Campbell River Mirror

The Gold River Highway is the main connector between the west coast communities and Campbell River. Photo by Binny Paul/ Campbell River Mirror

SRD to look into west coast transportation options

Regional District doing feasibility study on linking western Island communities

The Strathcona Regional District will be looking in to how to help people get to and from remote communities on the west coast of the Island.

The idea originally came from a request by the village of Tahsis in July. At the time, the village was interested in setting up a rideshare service between the community and Campbell River.

”We felt that it would be better to look at coordinating for a number of communities on the west coast,” said SRD corporate services manager Tom Yates as he introduced the item at Wednesday’s board meeting. “What this report attempts to do is provide a bit of a road map for what the board might want to look at further if it wishes to go deeper into this topic in terms of studying a service.”

While there is still much to figure out, the basic idea is to find a way to set up transportation between communities on the west coast of the Island to Campbell River. Communities that could be included are Tahsis, Gold River, Tsa’xana, Kyuquot, Fair Harbour, Zeballos, Woss, Sayward and the Sayward valley, all leading back to Campbell River.

“I’m defintely interested to see who the users are… we have many people here who don’t have reliable transportation, who might not be comfortable getting in a car with just a random person, which is what often happens. We just advertise on social media and kind of hitchhike into town, or get someone to pick stuff up for us,” said Director Julie Colborne, who is also mayor of Zeballos.

“What about people who want to come in to our communities who may not want to drive themselves. It would be an opportunity for some tourism,” she said. “I’m interested in seeing the results of this. It would be great for others to see the beauty of Area A as they’re driving into Zeballos.”

However, there were some questions from directors whose areas would not be part of the transportation system. Directors Gerald Whalley and Brenda Leigh both represent areas that either would not be served by the transportation system, or that already have a transit system in place.

Whalley’s concerns were about the rationality of the service, saying that: “like so many regional services that come up, this would be better served as a sub-regional service for those areas that wish to participate. There are going to be some areas that won’t participate, like Area A, and if you intend to pursue a full regional service it just isn’t going to fly.”

Yates said that the intention is to just look into the possibilities for the communities outlined in the report.

Leigh thought that the communities involved should take a different approach: “I am more supportive of the communities that need these services being able to organize from their communities, as Sayward is doing,” she said.

“They have a bus, and they have volunteer drivers. I haven’t heard a lot about it, but it sounds like it’s working.”

“I think it’s a great idea,” said Campbell River director Charlie Cornfield. Especially “if it encompasses the outlying communities and gets people working together on seeing what solutions are, it may be ride share to common pick up points, bus routes, or a number of different combinations and permutations of a transportation system that allows better connectivity.”

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