Proposed bike lanes along West Saanich Road in North Saanich between Willingdon Road and the Tseycum First Nation are going ahead as planned — with a couple minor modifications.
Following concerns raised by residents along the stretch of road near Munro Road, and an open house on Feb. 7, District staff returned to council Feb. 19 recommending their original plans to widen the road for the $1 million bike lane project. In some areas, the road would use District right-of-way that until now have been used by residents for their driveways and yards.
That re-alignment of West Saanich Road had some residents angry that they’de be losing what they saw as safe access on and off the narrow, rural road. A petition signed by 33 of the estimated 48 residents in the area was presented to the District before this week’s meeting.
Resident Joscelyn Barnard spearheaded the resident concerns and the petition.
District staff did modify the road’s proposed re-alignment, suggesting shifts away from property lines from 10215 West Saanich Road to Munro Road and another shift between 10291 and 10315 West Saanich Road. The idea, according the the staff report was “to achieve as balanced a widening as reasonably practical.”
Traffic calming bollards will also be considered for the west side of the road, near Munro Road, although both councillors and staff seemed reluctant to commit on those.
In order to accommodate the shifts, staff reported that depending on the final design, there could be a need for retaining walls on the ocean side of the road, as well as railings for cyclist safety. That work could add as much as $200,000 to the cost of the project.
Council rejected the other two options presented by staff: shared roadway via pavement markings (aka sharrow), or, diverting the entire bike route along the Victoria Airport’s Flight Path and Tsaykum Road.
Those options further complicated the project. Director of Infrastructure Services Eymond Toupin said while they are possible, there would be significant costs, not the least of which would be having to negotiate with a private property owner for access at the end of Tsaykum Road. And even then, he added, not every cyclist would divert off West Saanich Road.
Councillor debated many of the finer points of the project and at one point Toupin encouraged the politicians not to “make engineering recommendations.”
“Any way this shakes out,” said Coun. Heather Gartshore, “there will be residents not happy with it.”
A motion to approve the modified project design passed a vote, 5-2, with councillor Geoff Orr and Jack Thornburgh opposed.