Changing the way you move around town

AT ISSUE: TRAFFIC CONGESTION – How do you propose to quickly alleviate some of the stresses caused by single-occupancy vehicles, which turns many of our major thoroughfares into parking lots at rush hour?

It’s no secret there are a number of roads in Saanich you’re best to avoid come rush hour. McKenzie Avenue backs up for blocks from the Trans-Canada Highway, and the notorious five-way intersection at Wilkinson and Interurban roads is the closest thing to gridlock in Greater Victoria outside of the Colwood Crawl.

While long-term transportation planning will involve some costly upgrades, Saanich’s council candidates acknowledge changes must be made in the short-term to get people out of single-occupancy vehicles.

“We need more significant attention paid to regional transportation planning and infrastructure,” said incumbent Mayor Frank Leonard. “That is a realistic goal to achieve in the next term.”

Challenger David Cubberley agrees, saying that cut-through driving from other municipalities is resulting in a lot – but not all – of the growing traffic issues.

“We have to see transit and transportation improvements proceed in tandem at a regional level,” he said.

Both mayoral candidates say the quickest way to deal with the issues is by improving transit service.

They say the post-secondary institutions in Saanich (the University of Victoria and the two Camosun College campuses) are major traffic generators, as well as downtown Victoria and the Esquimalt naval base. More buses should be put on the routes servicing these areas.

“There are a lot of students being passed by full buses – students are feeling they can’t rely on transit,” Cubberley said. He criticizes the Victoria Regional Transit Commission for being “too conservative” in not adequately finding the resources to improve the service.

Leonard says the east-west transit network is lacking, and routes that travel along McKenzie should start using Cedar Hill X Road instead.

“We’re putting more buses in the traffic jams on McKenzie, but there are two roads in Saanich going to UVic. Why aren’t we using both of them?” he said. He added that more east-west buses should serve areas along Glanford Avenue and Carey Road.

Cubberley also suggests dedicated lanes on the highway for transit or higher-occupancy vehicles. That idea is supported by council candidates Susan Brice, Dean Murdock and Leif Wergeland, all incumbents.

“The way to encourage more people into transit is for them to be able to see buses moving more quickly than they can in their individual automobiles,” Brice said.

Incumbent councillors Vic Derman and Paul Gerrard, as well as Rob Wickson, say offering incentives for high-occupancy vehicles and disincentives for single-occupancy vehicles could help reduce congestion.

Such options as higher parking rates for single-occupant cars or charging drivers as they come into Victoria are among the ideas.

“Tax those vehicles to use that road,” Gerrard said. “The one way to get people out of their cars is hit them in the pocketbook.”

Judy Brownoff and Vicki Sanders, both incumbents, as well as Ingrid Ip say improved transit service and promoting carpooling is the way to go.

“People have to recognize that congestion is caused by all of us. Unless we all make conscientious decisions not to use our car one or two days a week (and opt for an alternative), we all have to take responsibility,” Brownoff said.

Nichola Wade said “there is no one answer,” and dedicated lanes, long-term planning and creating incentives for high occupancy vehicles must be solutions offered concurrently.

“As long as you’re part of the problems you’re not part of the solutions,” she said. “And right now there’s a lot of people contributing to the problems.”

kslavin@saanichnews.com

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Get more from your candidates

We asked all the candidates how they would tackle traffic congestion in the short-term. Check out their full comments here.

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