B.C. government staff and members of the public discuss concerns and possible solutions for the high amount of traffic both on the highway and in the forest at Cathedral Grove. — Adam Kveton Photo

Low turnout over high-traffic Cathedral Grove

Pedestrian overpasses, alternative parking sites, trail extensions among suggestions

Safety concerns surrounding the parking lot at Cathedral Grove failed to manifest into a big turnout at a pair of mid-Island open houses last week.

However, the input of those who did attend has provided some validation, according to the Ministry of Transportation and Infrastructure deputy regional director for the South Coast Region.

“People definitely agree that there is a safety concern,” Janelle Staite said. “Folks who are traveling on the corridor said, ‘Yup, I’ve experienced that myself first hand,’ so I think it was validation that, yes, there is a concern out there, and yes, there is a need to do something.”

Approximately 530 pedestrians cross Highway 4 at Cathedral Grove every two hours during summer days, walking in front of the thousands of vehicles traveling through the grove daily, according to B.C. government stats.

That fact was among the information on display at a Ministry of Transportation and Infrastructure open house in Parksville on Thursday, Nov. 22, to discuss solutions for the area. An open house was also held the day before in Port Alberni.

Approximately 50 people attended the Port Alberni meeting, while approximately 20 visited the Parksville one (MOTI staff were expecting more, they said).

However, some have been sounding the alarm for years already.

“It’s an accident waiting to happen,” said Gillian Mead-Robins in a 2016 Alberni Valley News story. Her family has owned a cabin at Cameron Lake since the 1920s.

“It’s too crowded on the side of the road, kids jump out of the car, people back up into the oncoming highway to take pictures of trees… it’s deathly dangerous,” she said in the story.

MORE: ‘It’s an accident waiting to happen

At the time, MOTI was touting its signage and reduced speed for the area. But now it is willing to say those changes haven’t been enough, and the ministry is prepared to listen.

“We’ve identified the fact that there has been a concern out here and we’ve made some improvements, but now we recognize that the concern still persists,” said Staite.

MOTI info boards note some of the same issues pointed at by people like Mead-Robins: people walking along the highway and in vehicle lanes, parking that’s over-capacity, people parking in no-parking zones leaving some of their vehicle jutting into traffic, and illegal maneuvers by motorists to access the park. Complicating the process is the public’s love of the park and its desire not to impact its trees.

Based on feedback from the Port Alberni meeting, Staite noted ideas such as “the idea of pedestrian separation be it a tunnel, be it a pedestrian overpass; making sure it was accessible because there is such a range of folks that visit the park.

“The idea of more parking was generated in terms of different ideas be it parking lots, be it parking areas where you shuttle people in, or there is a new trail network where you walk to the park, wider shoulders to again be able to get people off the highway,” said Staite.

One suggestion made at the Parksville meeting was the use of a logging road not far to the west of the grove, which could be used for parking. Then, people could either be shuttled into the grove, or a trail network could be connected from there.

Use of a logging road for parking was another suggestion pointed out by Mead-Robins two years ago.

Staite said she can’t say how long it will take for a solution to be implemented, but said the ministry would first seek more input from the public once it has a selection of options which notes the level of ecological impact each option would have on the area.

“It gives the opportunity to, again, cycle back to the public and say, with this option, here is the impact that comes with it, and here are the benefits that come with it,” she said.

The two open houses kick off the ministry’s Pedestrian and Traffic Safety Study for Cathedral Grove, with staff emphasizing that they have no preferred ideas yet, and are currently looking for public input on concerns and solutions.

The public can get info and continue to provide feedback online via engage.gov.bc.ca/cathedralgrove, by calling 250-751-3126, or by emailing cathedralgrove@gov.bc.ca.

Feedback will be taken until Jan. 4 of next year.

Just Posted

VIDEO: Saanich resident shocked when trespasser licks security camera, rummages through mail

‘I found the situation really bizarre,’ said the Gordon Head resident

BC Ferries crew member taken to hospital after getting struck by bow doors

Two sailings between Horseshoe Bay and Departure Bay were cancelled

Goldstream Food Bank on the search to fill Christmas Hampers with toys

Volunteers are looking for new toys for infants to 11-year-olds

Black Press Media celebrates women who are making a difference

Helping others is the cornerstone of the work Shannon Drew does in… Continue reading

Bulk or boxed candy? Trick-or-treat maps help Canadian families prepare for Halloween

Census Mapper uses 2016 census data to predict busiest neighbourhoods

VIDEO: Explosion, fire sends woman running from Saanich home

Heavy smoke in the area, crews on scene

Jack’s Devils beat Quinn’s Canucks 1-0 in NHL brother battle

New Jersey youngster scores first career goal against Vancouver

Two charged after owner’s wild ride through Kamloops in his stolen truck

Crystal Rae Dorrington, 37, and Derrick Ronald Pearson, 32, facing multiple charges

Judge orders credit union’s bank records for Kelowna social worker facing theft allegations

The man is accused of negligence, breach of contract, fraud and a conspiracy with Interior Savings

Leaders pour it on with rallies, boosts for candidates as campaign reaches peak

The federal election campaign has reached a crescendo

Allegations of racism lead to ministry investigation at Vancouver private school

St. George’s School was contacted over what the school describes as ‘deeply offensive behaviour online’

Not a political question: Thunberg calls for climate action in Alberta

Edmonton police estimated the size of the crowd at about 4,000

Zantac, the over-the-counter heartburn drug, pulled in Canada, U.S.

Health Canada also investigates possible carcinogen in some ranitidine drugs

B.C. public safety minister says cannabis edibles not in stores til January

Mike Farnworth says he wants regional issues considered when it comes to licensing

Most Read