A couple dozen Greater Victoria residents gathered at the junction of West Saanich Road and Wallace Drive on Saturday morning to protest the Capital Regional District’s (CRD) plans to expand the Hartland Landfill and change its access point.
The group of cyclists, environmentalist, park goers and local residents fear the proposed changes would wreak havoc on an area that they hold dear and argue the CRD should be investigating more innovative waste management solutions.
Hugh Stephens, who helped organize the protest, says their most immediate concern is stopping the change to the landfill access point.
He and several other concerned people created the Mount Work Coalition in response to the proposed changes, a not-for-profit aimed at protecting the health and safety of Greater Victoria residents and the environment.
Stephens says their group is concerned the CRD will change the landfill access point without fully considering alternative options to expanding the site.
“This is like putting a building block when we haven’t even decided what the house is going to look like,” he said.
Currently, the landfill is accessed through Hartland Road — a dead-end road. The proposed new access point would be through Willis Point Road — a road that is regularly used by local residents, cyclists and park visitors.
A CRD staff report estimates 475 to 500 commercial and residential trucks and other vehicles would be added to Willis Point Road daily if the change went through.
This raises worries for area residents who don’t want increased traffic and for cyclists who fear the road would no longer be a safe place for them to ride.
“Cyclists and big trucks don’t mix well together. These big trucks have huge blind spots and won’t be able to see us,” said cyclist, Ron Youngash.
Fellow cyclist Deborah Chamitoff added Willis Point Road is an excellent training route for competitive cyclists and not being able to ride there anymore would be a huge loss for them.
Long-term, Saturday’s protesters were also worried about the possible environmental implications of expanding the landfill.
Winona Pugh, chair of Friends of Tod Creek Watershed, says she fears all their hard work restoring the area could be ruined.
“To see us go backwards around water quality and the health of this stream would be really tragic,” she said.
Several protesters expressed that they would like to see the CRD seriously pursue alternative waste management systems, such as Esquimalt is currently pursuing.
The CRD heard from concerned community members back in August and said then it would pursue further public consultation in the fall.
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