Trucks like these have been a long-standing concern in rural Saanich, where a group of residents have been working with the municipality to introduce traffic calming measures in the face of growing traffic volumes. Photo Submitted

Outside traffic threatens safety of rural Saanich

Traffic originating outside of Saanich is increasingly threatening the safety of residents in rural Saanich.

That is message from a group of residents concerned about the state of roads in rural Saanich, specifically, Prospect Lake Road, Sparton Road, Goward Road, southern Old West Saanich Road and Oldfield Road within Saanich.

Members of the group calling itself Livable Roads for Rural Saanich (LRRS) appeared before council last week to raise these issues and expanded on them in a recent interview with the Saanich News.

“It boils down to at-risk users not being able to use the roads they live on,” said Guy Chester, one of the members. “These roads become rat roads to get around the commuter hours,” he said.

This phenomenon appears especially prominent on Prospect Lake Road, Sparton Road, Oldfield Road and the southern section of Old West Saanich Road, he said.

“You can see it during rush hour when it [traffic] stacks up,” said John Potter, another group member. “It’s people coming off the Trans-Canada Highway, and coming off the Island Highway that come up Prospect Lake Road and wiggle through, either going up West Saanich [Road] or through Sparton [Road], travelling north up the Peninsula, because it is just plain quicker for them.” Users have also tried to avoid Highway 17 by way of Interurban Road, Old West Saanich Road and Oldfield Road.

In short, rural Saanich faces what economists call a free-rider problem: it provides a service (roads) but cannot force out-of-area users living on the West Shore or on the Peninsula to contribute to their upkeep, while absorbing various costs, including reduced quality of life. In fact, their heavy, inappropriate use has become dangerous.

“These roads are being misused, whether it be by size, volume or speed,” said Chester. “They are completely unusable for any other type of users [such as pedestrians or cyclists] unless you want to take your lives in your own hand.”

Of particular concern are trucks with a gross vehicle weight (GVW) rating in excess of 5,500 kilograms that use all these roads as shortcuts to Central Saanich in violation of Saanich’s trucking bylaw.

So what is to be done? Pam Harrison, another group member, said the group has been working with Saanich to document the problem and develop traffic calming measures that respect the rural nature of the area. One early success includes the development of a pilot project that will place signs in the area alerting to motorists to other users.

Harrison said she does not want to see the area cut off from the rest of the region.

“Rural Saanich has many values embedded in the Rural Saanich Local Area Plan, which we offer happily to all communities,” she said. “We cover markets, vineyards, [riding], [Elk and Beaver Lakes] all sorts of things,” said Harrison. “Those are quite valuable, and we hope to foster those. It is hard to do that as a cut-through.”

Harrison said the group has also had discussions with the community association in Central Saanich, which has its own set of rural traffic issues.

“Based on what are told by Central Saanich, we are not welcomed because we are not ratepayers in Central Saanich,” said Chester. “Our issues are to be dealt with by Saanich,” added Harrison. This said, the group has had fruitful discussions with the Central Saanich Police.“It is actually because of subsequent work with Central Saanich police that we now have the truck signs up on the Central Saanich portion of Oldfield and Keating, and we have had positive dialogues with [Central Saanich],” she said. “This cooperation has been achieved by LRRS efforts.”

The group has not given much thought to taking their case to neighbouring communities, or even the Capital Regional District. Rather, it has focused on building up credibility with Saanich staff to help come up with a local solution in the absence of a regional approach, said Leo Polowich.

“We know that problem is not going to go away, said Chester. “So how are we going to mitigate it? We know the pressure is not going to go away. Langford and Colwood aren’t going to stop building permits.”

Potter agrees. “At the end of the day, we are pretty sure that the only people who can do anything about this is Saanich, so that is where we are focusing on,” he said.

But it is not hard to hear the frustrations of the group, which feels municipalities work in silos at the expense of the greater whole. “It is just one example of the ludicrous nature of having 13 municipalities,” said Chester.


Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter

wolfgang.depner@saanichnews.com

Just Posted

Sooke municipal staff enters budget prep mode

All a matter of priorities, says mayor

Sooke mayor travels to Cambodia to empower women in politics

The trip is part of a Global Affairs Canada initiative

Overworked and understaffed: More than 300 vacancies in Vancouver Island nursing

Tentative deal with province includes ‘working short premium’ to encourage hiring

CRD committee proposes ending livestock payouts to farmers

The bylaw has existed since the creation of the CRD’s animal control service in 1979

Sooke approves new toilets for popular park

Whiffin Spit loos will have to wait

B.C. opioid crisis to get same world-renowned treatment approach as HIV/AIDS

A program that focuses on treatment as prevention will roll out Jan. 17

Olympian snowboarder Max Parrot diagnosed with Hodgkin’s lymphoma

Each year in Canada, approximately 900 people are diagnosed with Hodgkin’s lymphoma

‘Prince of Pot’ Marc Emery accused of sexual assault, harassment

Emery denied the allegations, but a Toronto woman says she is not the only one speaking out

Vancouver Island photographer makes National Geographic’s 2018 elite

Rare double honour for Marston from the 36 best Your Shots out of nearly 19,000 photos

Ex-Liberal candidate in Burnaby, B.C., says volunteer wrote controversial post

Karen Wang dropped out following online post singling out NDP Leader Jagmeet Singh’s ethnicity

Asteroids are smacking Earth twice as often as before

The team counted 29 craters that were no older than 290 million years

Canada’s arrest of Huawei exec an act of ‘backstabbing,’ Chinese ambassador says

China has called Canada’s arrest of Huawei chief financial officer Meng Wanzhou ‘politically motivated’

RCMP’s use of force in arrest of Island man not excessive, judge rules

Campbell River man high on cocaine led high speed chase through city’s downtown

LETTERS: Cyclist feels safe on the road

I am writing to thank the many drivers I have encountered riding… Continue reading

Most Read