The B.C. Transportation Ministry held an open house in Sooke last night, with hopes of gaining residents’ feedback on more Highway 14 improvements.
“We want to know what the priorities are, so we can establish our investment process moving forward,” said Janelle Erwin, deputy director at the Ministry of Transportation.
“We also wanted to give a status update on the improvements so far, and showcase information around what we know about how the highway is currently operating from a safety, travel time, and reliability perspective.”
The ministry showcased a series of slides to give the public ideas on what the future of Sooke Road could look like.
Erwin said the ministry would like to continue to invest in transit to encourage people to get out of their cars, understand what improvements they can make to the existing route, and look at sections of the highway where they can build “short realignments” such as adding a bypass lane near the Gillespie Road intersection.
“Our main goal is to solicit that feedback to understand what’s important to the commuters, public, people of the community, anyone who regularly travels on the road, and make sure we capture that in the improvements moving forward,” said Erwin, noting the proposal of possibly adding more lighting, sidewalks and pull outs to the road.
Following the open house, Erwin said the ministry plans to process the feedback and will later release an engagement report.
A much anticipated study on Highway 14, which will examine short and long term upgrades for the road, has yet to be released by the ministry. So far this year, $10 million in upgrades have been invested into the road.
Sooke resident David Evans, a member of the Sooke Juan de Fuca Working Group who attended the open house, said he think it’s great that the ministry is reaching out to the citizens of Sooke.
“Public engagement is long overdue, and I think the ministry has reacted well to a lot of Sooke’s concerns,” he said.
Evans believes most people in Sooke are happy to see the improvements so far and how quickly they happened, but they realize that the $10 million didn’t go very far.
“Efficiencies can be realized in small steps up to a point, but then we have to knuckle down and do something significant, and I think that’s what this open house was about,” said Evans. “Now we are looking at several more millions of dollars in upgrades.”
Evans added he would like to see more improvements to transit, to provide some incentive for people to use it more during peek times, and more pullouts for industrial and recreational traffic.
“I would like to see there a potential dedicated transit lane, even if it were just in stretches, but I know that likely won’t happen,” said Evans.
Earlier this year the province announced $10 million in improvements to Highway 14, including bus pullouts, a new two-lane bridge on Gillespie Road, a bus-queue jump lane, new safety signs, a slow moving vehicle pull out and a rest area.
Sooke mayor Maja Tait said the open house was timely and she was glad to see the Ministry check in with residents, but she was disappointed in the turnout, as only around 200 people showed up.
“This and health care are both extremely important to our community, and I see people sharing their opinions about Sooke Road on social media all the time, but yet only a small of amount of people came to give feedback,” said Tait.
“Now is the time where ideas and input will be considered, so it’s important that people go and fill out the survey online if they want their voices to be heard.”
If you would like to give your input on the future plans for Highway 14, please go online to www.gov.bc.ca/highway14.