by Ian Fry
February 01, 2008, Bowen Island Undercurrent
EXCERPT: If ever there was an opportunity to pay more than lip service to the term ‘green’ this should have been it. When people say that they want to get away from the noise and stress of cities, what they mean is getting away from traffic.
Perhaps council can tell us when Bowen’s atrocious roads are likely to be rebuilt, and the individuals responsible for most of the damage forced to pay for it.
I’m talking about those developers with end-of-the-road projects whose relentless heavy truck traffic has turned our roads into a shattered, subsided and potholed mess. While it is common knowledge that the thoroughfares were substandard to begin with, they were adequate for a rural island.
There is no question about the cause. A fully loaded logging or dump truck exerts the compression damage necessary to crush the road bed, followed by hydraulic action from subsequent traffic on rainy days, degrading the surface into the crumbs of asphalt we have.
From my daily cycle commute across the island, I get an all too close look at what’s happening. Within three weeks of the golf course starting, Adams and Grafton roads were badly damaged and have only become worse – to the point of being unsafe for cars and plain dangerous for any two-wheeled transportation.
What we have here is arrogance and hypocrisy from all those developers on the south and west sides of the island whose immaculately paved suburbs have been gouged and blasted from this island, subjecting us to industrial traffic problems while paying 90 per cent less in taxes per lot than other comparable districts.
Open up a map of southwestern B.C. and look at areas where suburban sprawl has exploded in the last two decades, eating up farmland and costing us dearly in terms of pollution, road costs and accident rates.
Now look at our tiny island just offshore. If ever there was an opportunity to pay more than lip service to the term ‘green’ this should have been it. When people say that they want to get away from the noise and stress of cities, what they mean is getting away from traffic. The majority in Western society live, work and sleep within metres of a roadway, and this is only pleasant with few cars on the road.
Our OCP is open to several thousand more houses, many planned as far from Snug Cove as possible. We are being dictated to by a bunch of developers who endlessly claim that their scattered projects are mainly there to improve our lives. How absurd. They’re surging ahead now because the time is right to make a whacking great pile of money. I’ve heard references to two projects as being “visionary”. Right. It’s really visionary to have thousands of impatient individuals racing back and forth across the island in a polluted tide to their off-island commute. What would be visionary is if Mr. Russell, Mr. Duntz and associates, and Mr. Sorensen, proudly brought their clients and residents over in a frequent south island passenger ferry. The long-term accolades would surely be worth more than the financial costs, don’t you think?
What this island is, in its natural sense, is far more than a view from an exclusive strata enclave. As little as six or seven years ago, one could walk or bike along the main roads, and with cars sometimes five minutes apart, hear birds sing, frequently see kids heading someplace on bikes, see others walking and, best of all, riding horses on the roadside.
Where are those gems now, visionary developers?