Nine traffic corridors in Saanich identified as priorities based on crash and speed data, and community advocacy, have been approved for safe speed studies to begin later this year.
At its July 4 meeting, council unanimously approved the studies, which were packaged with a comprehensive speed limit establishment policy that puts in place a detailed methodology for evaluating street speeds and changing them as necessary.
Safe speed studies will be undertaken in corridors chosen based on existing data, input from the public and Saanich police, and the need for consistent speed limits.
Type B streets – those with a continuous yellow centre line – are first up.
Those include the continuous corridor linking Cadboro Bay, Telegraph Bay, Arbutus, Ash, Cordova Bay, Fowler and Sayward roads; Emily Carr Drive and a stretch of West Saanich Road in Royal Oak; the entirety of Cedar Hill Cross, Gorge West and Tillicum roads, and the Harriet, Boleskine and Saanich road stretch between Gorge and McKenzie Avenue.
Also included on the initial list are connected roads in rural Saanich, including the corridor linking Prospect Lake, Sparton and Oldfield roads, and the entirety of Old West Saanich Road.
The study of Type A streets, those without a centre line and typically residential, would follow in phase 2. Staff said making wholesale speed limit changes on such streets would be a “significant undertaking,” requiring an estimated 5,600 new signs and costing approximately $5.6 million.
Some around the council table bristled at such estimates. Engineering director Harley Machielse said current Motor Vehicle Act legislation requires speed limits to be posted every block to be enforceable.
While council’s pursuit of provincial approval for a pilot that would see speeds lowered on neighbourhood streets has stalled, a commitment to consider other ways of accomplishing that was approved in the form of a motion arising forwarded by Coun. Colin Plant.
“I do believe that steps forward are steps forward,” said Coun. Karen Harper, whose optimistic tone followed disappointment in the failure to secure the pilot approval.
Council heard the majority of residents who corresponded about the proposed policy change supported it, along with BC Transit, ICBC and Saanich police.
The studies are scheduled to start this fall with baseline data gathered, and related amendments to the streets and traffic bylaw would come to council in early 2023. Between spring and fall next year, new signage would appear, public and stakeholder communications undertaken and further data collected.
The entire Type B roads process is expected to take a year or more.
The cost of implementation could be absorbed in the existing capital projects budget, Machielse told Coun. Judy Brownoff during discussions. However, the installation of traffic calming measures was a separate issue not covered in the existing budget.
The district is in the early stages of creating a separate traffic calming policy, which would require its own budget requisition, council heard.
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