Walking along the side of Prospect Lake Road, Caroline Sousa points to the lack of shoulder, the speed of the drivers flying by and the blind spots that inhibit safety along the stretch rural road that she’s lived on for the past 11 years.
A large group of residents gathered early Wednesday morning to bring awareness to the safety concerns they have, marching in two different groups, escorted by police, from Whitehead Park and Woodsend Drive to meet in the middle.
In October, Jon Kocsis died after his motorcycle collided with a pick up truck in the 400-block of Prospect Lake Road. Sousa told Black Press Media at the time that this was the third crash in the area in just eight days. In February a head-on collision on the road sent two drivers to hospital.
Sousa, echoed by many neighbours in attendance, wants to see things change — whether than means changing the posted speed from a suggested 30 km/hr to the actual speed limit, adding speed bumps or creating a shoulder on sections of the road that don’t have one —“we feel forgotten in Saanich.”
Saanich Mayor Fred Haynes, who was in attendance at the march and lives on the road, sent a request to ICBC on Oct. 1 for a full road safety audit. The information garnered from that audit, as well as from a collision analysis and forensic identification from Saanich Police, will inform the District’s actions on Prospect Lake Road.
Since then some changes have been made such as the addition of high visibility signs on certain bends and adding gravel to improve the shoulder in several places. According to Haynes, rumble strips have been authorized to be added to the centre of the road to ensure drivers stay in their lane around certain turns in the road, although he is unsure as to when they will be implemented.
Haynes says the biggest concern is driver behavior.
“The road is safe if it’s driven at the appropriate posted speed,” he says. “When people go above the speed then it becomes unsafe and that’ll be the same on any road.”
The mayor also acknowledged that rural road safety is a concern in many parts of Saanich. Moving forward will require a cohesive approach, he says, adding that the provincial government is considering a B.C.-wide change lowering speed limits on side streets to 40 km/hr.
Coun. Nathalie Chambers also attended the march and said she “felt the spirit of Saanich.”
Last year neighbours galvanized, forming an action group that counted the number of crashes and drivers on the road and presented their data to the District of Saanich, hoping for traffic calming.
Another group, who called themselves Livable Roads for Rural Saanich, also asked the municipality to improve road safety, presenting to council in May, 2018. In response, the District installed signs south of Munn Road indicating curves in the road ahead.
“We need something done now, before someone else dies,” says Sousa.
A public open house will be held on Nov. 13 at Prospect Lake Community Hall for residents to air their concerns.
Editor’s note: An earlier version of this article had the incorrect date of the open house. The event will take place on Nov. 13 from 4 to 8 p.m. We apologize for the error and any confusion it may have caused.