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General News · 8th April 2019
Manda Aufochs Gillespie
Have you ever tried to take a walk along beautiful Bartholomew, Gorge Harbour, or any other of the many roads on Cortes and feared for your life? What if there were trails or roadways or lanes or shoulders where one could safely stroll, even if one was young, or old, or limped, or rolled?

Our Minister, Claire Trevena, is interested in making the communities in her district more walk-able and bike-able. It won't be easy to bring these ideas to rural communities like Cortes: but that doesn't mean it's not possible. You can help influence this possibility by giving your feedback on active transportation. The Honourable Trevena is seeking input for about another week or so online. Here's the link:

Here's what she says in a note I got via email...."Public feedback is vital in shaping an active transportation strategy that works for everyone. Since we launched the website, we have had over 900 comments and over 5,500 site visits: a great turnout so far.

The public engagement forum will close Monday, April 15, 2019, at 4 p.m.

Working together, we can make communities more liveable with investments in active transportation – investments that will benefit ourselves, our children and our grandchildren.


Claire Trevena
B.C. Minister of Transportation & Infrastructure"

You can also sign-up to get updates on active transportation efforts being made by the province here:

Road maintenance helps
Comment by David Shipway on 15th April 2019
Notice how much of an improvement it is just to have the road shoulders clean swept of rocks, gravel and debris. Now if only those shoulders were widened and improved a little between the lakes, pedestrian and cyclist safety on that windy stretch would be a lot better.
Attracting commerce
Comment by Penny Thompson on 8th April 2019
I've often thought that having a bike-able route around the island would benefit Cortes for economic and health reasons.

It would give people more of a feeling of safety to walk/cycle/scooter/run etc, especially parents with kids in strollers or kids on foot. This could give people opportunities to increase their activity, and to give children more independence in getting around on the island safely. It's a lot healthier to exercise a bit of a distance from car exhaust rather than walking on the road as cars pass by. Having the option to use person-power instead of driving might decrease congestion on market days in Manson's. And yes, it would be great if everyone drove carefully enough that people on the roadside felt safe, but if they don't do that now, when are they going to start? Lots of research shows it's safer to separate pedestrians and cyclists from motor traffic.

A multi-purpose path (as it's called in Tofino) could benefit Cortes economically, and not just in the jobs planning and building the path. Lots of people say there aren't enough opportunities to be entrepreneurial on Cortes. Having a multi-use path could attract tourists who want to cycle the gulf islands, and this could expand the tourism season beyond the hectic summer months. This could allow more opportunities for employment, if BnB's, restaurants, tours/equipment rentals, and artisans/musicians have a longer season. I've talked to so many chefs about a restaurant on Cortes and they say there isn't a long enough busy season to warrant getting it started. It could benefit a lot of people to have a longer tourism season on Cortes.

My sense of the resistance to taxes on Cortes is that a big contributor to paying tax is that people find that they don't get much for the tax they pay, since Cortes is a DIY place. This would be an opportunity to funnel some of the taxes paid by Cortesians back to Cortes.

Rather than seeing this as an urban phenomenon, I think it could be viewed as helping to keep Cortes more rural and less suburban, as people would have more options than driving.

For those of you who made it all the way through this long piece, thank you for your attention.
It's the community that makes it safe.
Comment by Heather on 7th April 2019
The survey is province wide, not specific to Cortes. I have biked for decades in many places, some totally safe with infrastructure like Vancouver, prairie cities where you're on your own and rural places with bad roads. I just moved here and have biked around fine. The terrain is very hilly and I would not expect most people to feel comfortable getting around, although they CAN DO IT. I would not want street lights or unnecessary bike lanes built here. I've seen that happen in other coastal communities that were a waste of resources. Share the road signs are a good start and ensuring everyone pays attention and drivers do their due diligence and drive appropriately, slow down and give pedestrians, cyclists, skateboarders, people in wheel chairs, people on horses, random cats, dogs, wild animals wide berth. I have ridden on roads here with no traffic whatsoever. Even biking back from Campbell River I had no issues, the cars went around me and was riding very much alone.
To make the roads on Cortes safer...
Comment by Myrna Kerr on 7th April 2019
To make the roads on Cortes safer if the Ministry of Highways would insist that the road contractor keeps the center line painted, and clear, it would ensure that vehicles were in the correct lane while driving. From the ferry terminal to the end south end of Cortes vehicles from both directions are often well over what should be the center line because it no longer exists. ensuring the vehicles were in the correct place on the road will ensure that walkers and bikers could be more confident.
Inclusion & Accessiblity
Comment by Jenny Wilson on 5th April 2019
Thank you for bringing this up. I think it is important to remember that not everyone is able bodied and the more inclusive our world becomes the better! Of course there is a certain appeal and reality to the physical landscape of a rural community - we cannot pave the forests etc. However, it would be great if there were a few more accessible routes for people who use mobility devices or chairs/scooters or are PWD (persons w disabilities). Wouldn't it be wonderful to be able to easily walk and roll (wheelchair/walker) down to Smelt Bay without being on the road edge or venture into the forest somewhere to do a little off roading without fear of bailing into the bushes? I know there is a way for a rural community to become more accessible without paving paradise and it will come as we open our minds up to the diversity of bodies and how they move. Let's think outside of our own box and imagine an island that truly was accessible to all. Cortes is stunning - it can stay that way and still evolve to include all bodies.
selected spots could help
Comment by mike m on 5th April 2019
I think from gunflint to just past the motel could use some kind of bike lane. we're going to have a lot more ebikes in the next few years. That blind corner just before the bridge at hage lake is also scary.
No thanks
Comment by J. Wills on 5th April 2019
"It won't be easy to bring these ideas to rural communities like Cortes: but that doesn't mean it's not possible."
All things are possible, but not all are needed or even wanted.
I believe Max Thyssen did an extensive survey on including bike lanes, etc. The cost was prohibitively astronomical, and not many said they would use them in any event.
Why don't we keep Cortes rural rather than try to transform it with urban amenities? As Peter said "I don't expect, or want, urban conditions here on the Island. That is one of the reasons I live here."

Transportation Demand Study 2017
Comment by Brittany Baxter on 5th April 2019
It would be good for Claire Trevena to read through the excellent report that the Transportation Committee has already put together during their extensive 2017 community engagement process on transportation matters. No need to reinvent the wheel!
Hornby Example
Comment by Mary Clare Preston on 5th April 2019
Visiting Hornby, I admired their paths along the roadside. They are very discrete, often hardly visible from the road, unless someone was on them, more like trails. They make cycling and walking along the windy roads much safer and if anything they add to the rural nature of the place. I agree with the areas Peter points out.
Mixed Feelings
Comment by Peter Jackel on 4th April 2019
I have bicycled safely (a lot and I mean a lot) on Cortes since 1997 and walked a lot (and I mean a lot) safely, too, roadside walking, that is.

I don't expect, or want, urban conditions here on the Island. That is one of the reasons I live here.

That being said, there are a few locations on the Island where shoulders could be improved at a reasonable cost, probably, and I think that is a worthwhile objective.

Perhaps from Linnea to Manson's and on to Smelt Bay. Perhaps from Robertson Road, to the Whaletown Post Office, and to the ferry.

Much of the rest of the Island has shoulders that are impossible to widen except at a huge cost, if at all. And most people, even if those shoulders could be made safer, would still not ride their bicycles there because it is hard work to pedal from Whaletown to Manson's or to Squirrel Cove or to the recycling centre. And it takes a good chunk of time out of the day. Those people who are willing to put in the effort and time are already doing so, in my opinion.

I speak from my experience. I hope others will speak from their experience which will be different than mine.