North Sooke Community Association is raising concerns on a Transportation Ministry’s proposal to improve Highway 14.
The association urged council recently to ask the ministry to put the brakes on road planning until they can provide some options to a set of improvements that seem rooted in a 1991 highway infrastructure study.
Association spokesman Eric Boucher said that significant changes have occurred in the community in the past 27 years and that a simple approach of realigning the highway may not be sufficient to address the situation.
“Over the long term, this is a $50 million to $100 million transportation project that, once started, will make it far less likely that options such as a secondary or parallel route will ever be considered,” Boucher said.
This summer, the Transportation Ministry conducted a community engagement initiative that garnered a total of 614 feedback forms and more than 200 other interactions regarding the issue and later published a report on the feedback they’d received.
The greatest concern expressed by respondents was for improved paint lines (74 per cent of respondents said this was a high priority), according to transportation officials
Other upgrades seen as important included more roadside reflectors, additional passing opportunities and highway realignments.
A total of 119 respondents expressed support for building a new highway or alternate route from Sooke to Langford or to Highway No. 1.
“In July, we also had a community meeting with about 50 people in attendance and they generally agreed that this (realignment) proposition is not a good idea and that other options should be considered,” Boucher said.
Rob Howat, Sooke’s director development services, spoke to the concerns and reported that, in his conversations with the Transportation Ministry staff, he was told that the province is still working through the summary of public feedback and that they will come back to speak with the municipality before proceeding.
“I did not get the impression that their plans are set in stone,” he said.
Boucher also raised his group’s concern that the plan appears to be a stand-alone project, right in the middle of the transportation route, and does nothing to address issues of the capacity of the roadway and the connection between that capacity and development plans in Sooke.
“Sooke needs a comprehensive (transportation) plan. This isn’t it. It’s a plan right in the middle,” Boucher said.