This is not a new problem. Hon. Claire Travena inherited a massive challenge from the previous government. However, I am concerned that the current approach is the same as the previous approach.
Yesterday, in response to my question about transit funding and priorities, Minister Travena acknowledged her priority is safety. Many of the concerns my constituents have brought to the attention of the Ministry through my office are safety related. The problem of neglect goes much deeper though. If the roads on the Southern Gulf Islands are not addressed soon it will threaten the viability of the communities and the safety concerns will continue to grow more serious.
We need a plan to address the roads on the Southern Gulf Islands. So, I asked the Minister when her Ministry is going to prioritize roads on the islands in my riding, and why roads on much less populated Gulf Islands such as Quadra Island have been prioritized ahead of them.
[Note: In the video I suggest residents of Central Saanich and millions of visitors know the Keating overpass well. Unfortunately, the Keating exit does not yet have an overpass. However, I remain hopeful that the province will invest in this priority safety infrastructure at Keating!]
For more than 16 months, I’ve enjoyed….
It was a dare.
Anyway, I’ve appreciated working with the Minister of Transportation. In many respects, I recognize that she inherited a ministry, a portfolio that was in some serious decay. I know….
I know the minister prioritizes safety. The residents of the Saanich Peninsula and millions of tourists each year have experienced the Keating overpass. But today I’m going to switch gears a little bit.
I have to ask the minister questions about the roads on the southern Gulf Islands. The conditions of the roads there are steadily deteriorating — hundreds of kilometres of roads, which are little more than paved wagon trails from decades ago and have a lack of road markings. They’re dangerous for pedestrians and cyclists.
My constituents have been raising these issues, through my office, with the ministry, going back to previous governments. My question is to the Minister of Transportation. When will the roads on the southern Gulf Islands be a priority for the provincial government?
Hon. C. Trevena:
In light of what the member said, I have appreciated working with him too. He’s been very helpful and a very good advocate for his constituents, who have, like the rest of Vancouver Island, suffered after 16 years of neglect by the previous government. Because of that, there has been a lot of catch-up to do. So we are working hard to try and catch up. We are working hard…
Hon. C. Trevena:
…investing in projects for safety. Right across the region, we’re investing. Whether it is working on bus lines, whether it is working on bridges, seismically improving bridges — the Koksilah Bridge, the bridge in Campbell River, resurfacing in Nanaimo — we are checking them off one by one. We’re investing in the area that has been neglected for 16 years, and we’ll continue to so. I look forward to continuing to work with my colleague in the Third Party on the needs of his constituents.
The member for Saanich North and the Islands on a supplemental.
Unfortunately, through that answer, I still don’t have any indication of when the roads on the southern Gulf Islands are going to be a priority. We have a situation in my riding, where, actually, year-over-year neglect, where work that should be done to improve the conditions of those roads that would actually increase longevity of those roads…. They’re now deteriorating to the point where safety has become an issue.
It’s been raised by constituents to me that…. Last summer there were reports that surfaced that substantial investments in road improvements were being made on Gulf Islands — Quadra Island. My question to the Minister of Transportation: can the minister tell us if those road improvements on Quadra Island are going ahead? If so, why are they being prioritized over the well-known needs of bigger island populations like the one I represent on Saltspring?
Hon. C. Trevena:
I’m happy to say that there has been work widening the shoulder along Heriot Bay Road on Quadra Island. That was done directly after community consultation and will increase safety for all road users. It’s due to be completed in a couple of weeks.
I’m happy to sit down with the member to talk about the specific needs in his constituency, and we can make sure that we find the time to do so. But I’m extraordinarily proud of the investment we’ve been making in transportation on the Island and around the province — particularly on the Island, after 16 years of neglect.
Not only are we investing in transportation; we’re investing in a transportation strategy to deal with the growing needs of one of the fastest-growing areas of the province. We’re working on a pedestrian traffic study at Cathedral Grove, a popular tourist area, We’re investing more than $40 million in transit in southern Vancouver Island.
I know that the member is also very happy to know that we kept fares on B.C. Ferries frozen for another year, after rolling them back by 15 percent. We brought in the free senior rates, and we reinstated 2,700 sailings that were cut by that government, when the opposition was in government. I’m very pleased with what we have been doing.