CMRA HIGHWAY ACCESS PROJECT
December 14, 2015
When the Vancouver Island “Inland Island Highway” was being planned/constructed in the early
1990’s, the few residents living in the Corcan Road area at that time voted against highway access onto
Corcan Road. Since then, the “Meadowood Neighbourhood” of Electoral Area F (Arrowsmith
Community) has grown to include Little Qualicum River Village and the Meadowood Corridor. In 2006,
the population of Area F was 6680 and Meadowood was estimated at 27% of that census figure. Based
on the 2011 census, the number of residents living in Meadowood is now estimated to be over 2000
individuals. With on-going growth in both Area F and Area H in close proximity to the Corcan Island
Highway underpass, access directly onto the Highway from Corcan Road will continue to be an
important issue to be addressed.
As the Meadowood Community began to grow, a group of concerned citizens banded together and
worked with the RDN to have a local fire hall constructed as part of the Dashwood fire protection area.
The success of this initiative at the local community level became the inspiration to do more. In 2009,
another group of local residents banded together to form the non-profit Corcan Meadowood Residents
Association (CMRA). Membership was open to all individuals who had invested in homes and property
in the local area who were interested in developing community amenities to improve their lifestyle.
The initial focus was on holding local events to create community spirit and a feeling of belonging to a
unique and vibrant rural community. Addressing growth issues in the isolated community became a
top priority item. Over time, key local projects were identified by the CMRA including upgrades and
improvements to a trailhead and parking lot with signage providing better direct access to Little
Qualicum Falls Provincial Park; ramp access from Corcan Road onto the Inland Island Highway #19; and
the phased development of a local Meadowood Community Park. The CMRA, working with local
governments, has been able to identify key funding opportunities to complete trail access upgrades to
the Falls and install a playground in the Meadowood Community Park. Funding for the construction of
a Meadowood Community Hall in the community park is now confirmed and is in the final tendering
process. The CMRA is confident that hall construction in the park will begin in early 2016.
Gaining access onto Highway #19, however, has turned out to be a much more challenging CMRA
community project. The CMRA has a proven track record of getting things done and is determined to
stay focussed on defining the long term feasibility of this project for the Meadowood neighbourhood.
CMRA HIGHWAY ACCESS PROJECT
From the outset, the CMRA and most residents clearly understood that gaining highway access would
be a difficult uphill battle with the MoTI, particularly after the community said “no” to access during
the original highway construction. In the early stages, the CMRA, the RDN and various sub-committees
worked diligently, presenting many facts and figures to justify the need and benefits for this project,
both for the local residents and for the BC Government. However, the MoTI decided the project was
not justified using their volume requirements and that there was no provincial funding available for
this request. The CMRA then considered several alternative options. The current option, a request for
highway access on an “independent community basis” at Corcan Road is now perceived as a “pain in
the neck” by the MoTI, but is, however, now viewed by the CMRA as a longer term project that needs
to move forward today with the completion of a feasibility study.
The MoTI Ten Year Transportation Plan.
The CMRA initiative for this project is not currently being considered by the MoTI as a BC tax payer
funded highway project and is therefore, not included in their Ten Year Master Plan. However, the
MoTI have agreed in principle, that if the CMRA and the local residents can prepare a reasonable plan
to move forward on an independent contractor basis, they may reconsider approving the project. The
MoTI has confirmed their position to the CMRA with a letter to provide some guidance with this
process. This letter outlines eight basic MoTI report and design requirements, including engineering
designs, to move to the next step in the request process. The objective of the CMRA is to keep the
pressure on the BC government to reconsider this project in a more positive fashion.
At the outset, there was very strong interest from the local community for Highway Access to and from
Corcan Road onto Highway #19 at the current underpass. In 2010, the CMRA conducted a survey to
determine the support level for a study on providing highway access. Although some residents were
opposed, there were enough local residents who expressed an interest to proceed with discussion with
the MoTI. When the MoTI opted out, the CMRA prepared a strategy based on using an independent
contractor to build the Highway Access that would be financed locally on a taxation basis approved by
referendum. At that time, the CMRA introduced the $100 fund raising campaign to determine the level
of community support to proceed with the study.
Fund Raising Donations
Initially, the CMRA estimated it would need $100,000 to complete the engineering report required and
proceed to the next study phase. To-date, $36,000 has been raised through fund raising efforts and
resident donations of $100 each. Currently, the CMRA is confident the amount raised to-date is
sufficient to move forward to prepare a feasibility study based on the eight MoTI requirements.
Consequently, $4000 has been allocated from the money donated by the community to get the
highway access project underway. The CMRA is now working with an engineer who is doing a
preliminary report and drawings for the proposed highway access. The CMRA fully expects that by the
end of 2016, the community will know if the Highway Access Project will be able to proceed or will
have to be abandoned.
Study Result Alternatives
If it is determined that it is not feasible to proceed with the Highway Project at this time, then
registered donors will be refunded a proportionate amount of their donation once all engineering and
associated expenses have been paid. If the Highway Access Project is able to proceed, then any balance
in the initial donation fund will be used to proceed with the Highway Access Project. If the project is
deemed to be feasible at a reasonable cost, then all residents in the Highway Access area will be asked
to participate in a local referendum for approval to proceed. The mandate to proceed would be based
on a defined financing program based on a local taxation package. If the referendum is defeated, the
Highway Access Project will then be abandoned.
There is also hope that some Regional, Provincial or Federal grant funding opportunities may appear in
the future to help fuel this project. The immediate objective is to determine if this Highway Access
Project is feasible and if it is, then to hold a local referendum to proceed. Another key objective is to
try and position this project as a “shovel ready” status. Opportunities of this nature often show up on
short notice. The CMRA has a strong track record of taking advantage of grant opportunities in the
past. As an example, the funding for the Meadowood Community Hall is coming from the Union of BC
Municipalities Community Works Fund which was created as a result of the Federal Gas Tax program.
The new Liberal Federal Government of Canada has promised $125 billion in infrastructure spending
over the next ten years. It may be possible that some of this spending could trickle down to the local
level in the form of grant funding for projects like this in the next few years.
The CMRA and the Highway Access Project has strong community support and acknowledges that not
everyone is in favour of this study or long term project. However, it is the intention of the CMRA to
continue to work with concerned businesses and residents in Area F and Area H to move forward and
determine the feasibility of this project.
The CMRA is also committed to implement a methodology to help keep all local residents current on
the status of this project as it continues to move forward. Your patience and continued support for this
initiative is greatly appreciated.
Forwarding the following message just received from R.D.N. Emergency Preparedness:
Your area has received around 115 mm of rain since Friday – that’s enough to keep the ground saturated despite the few times its slackened off. The province has just announced a conference call for emergency management stakeholders shortly, but I can tell you generally now that we are anticipating more heavy rain overnight and into tomorrow.
Heavy rain, combined with high winds and already saturated ground creates conditions ripe for landslide. Landslide is a sudden event, sometimes with catastrophic impacts to people and property – we encourage those residents who may be at risk to activate their personal recovery plans, potentially considering alternative accommodation. It’s also a good time to check in with neighbours who may be new to the area or may need assistance if they have to leave their homes at short notice due to evacuation. Residents should be made aware of this information in advance to allow time to make proactive choices about their safety.
I have copied the Environment Canada weather Alert. Please click the link to read it. Weather Alerts dec 7