Over the past month I have been driving from Charlottetown to Victoria every day to appear in On Golden Pond at the Victoria Playhouse (closes this Sunday, get your tickets now!)
I’ve driven the road that is meant to be improved by the Plan B project countless times in my years working in Victoria, and still count it as one of my favourite drives. Like other great drives that I’ve taken in the past — on the New Zealand coast or through the Canadian Rockies — this stretch of road is shaped by, and draws attention to, the landscape that you are traversing.
Great roads not only take you places, they are great places in themselves. While this road is far less challenging than most of the world’s highly rated scenic drives, its gentle curves and changing vistas still offer a glimpse into the native character of the place, and as such, serve as an excellent gateway into our province for visitors.
While I’m sure that straightening our roads would offer improved efficiency (in terms of delivering cheap imports and extracting resources), I fear that much of the unique character of our Island will (literally) be buried beneath the asphalt and shale of these “improvements”.
Plan B and the Atlantic Gateway project ask us to view the Bonshaw Hills and the gently twisting road that runs through them as an impediment to safe and speedy travel from point A to B, but I can’t see it that way. There is inherent value in these hills and in this road, and if driving more slowly is the cost of protecting them, than it is a cost I am more than happy to pay.
After all, what is the point of improving the road if you risk destroying the place?