Interchange option riles stakeholders

Gorge Tillicum Community Association questions group's inclusion in press conference

The new McKenzie-Admirals interchange with the Trans Canada Highway will be built as a partial cloverleaf that appropriates a large section of Cuthbert Holmes Park.

A week after the province’s April 26 announcement of a partial cloverleaf design for the McKenzie-Admirals interchange with the Trans Canada Highway, a group of Saanich stakeholders are in disbelief.

Friends of Cuthbert Holmes Park member Dorothy Chambers, who has championed many causes for the park and Colquitz River since 1990, toured with representatives from the Ministry of Transportation and Infrastructure prior to the announcement of the cloverleaf design.

In Chambers’ mind, the cloverleaf option, which will put the TCH’s McKenzie exit and eastbound onramp into what is now pristine parkland, was a non-starter. The other two options, both diamonds, were also not ideal but were better as they had a minimal encroachment on the park.

“I think if the ministry is patting themselves on the back for engaging local stakeholders, then they sure weren’t listening to the local stakeholders,” Chambers said.

The leadership core of the Gorge Tillicum Community Association was also vocal in its displeasure with the process.

Vice-president Scott Karpes of GTCA was irked to see Minister of Transportation and Infrastructure Todd Stone joined on the steps of the legislation by a representative of Portage Inlet Sanctuary Colquitz Estuary Society (PISCES), a smaller, less vocal environmental group also based out of the Gorge Tillicum area.

The GTCA delivers newsletters to 3,000 addresses and swells to over 300 members at its annual Canada Day Gorge Picnic.

Regardless of what PISCES’ role was in the conversation with the province for the McKenzie Interchange design, it’s unfair representation, Karpes said.

“I would have rather seen nobody up there, that sends a more clear message. There’s no one supporting this other than PISCES [if they are],” Karpes said.

President George Blogg of the Portage Inlet Colquitz Sanctuary Estuary Society said he was surprised to be invited to join in the announcement.

The group was born out of a desire to focus on the Colquitz estuary and Portage Inlet in the early 1990s and has about 50 members, Blogg said. Like Dorothy Chambers, PISCES members were part of a community movement that fought against turning Cuthbert Holmes into a seniors’ lodge.

PISCES does support the cloverleaf but are trying to look forward to make the most of the opportunities at hand, though they have their concerns regarding impact on the park, Blogg said.

Gorge-Tillicum president Rob Wickson said the estimate of 22 minutes saved for car commuters with the cloverleaf option means nothing without seeing the numbers.

“I’m a math guy, so show us the numbers,” Wickson said. “They didn’t do that, they simply came in with two choices, and $85 million, saying you don’t know everything, we know everything.

“It’s an insult to us, the community and to Saanich. Go into a class of kids and give them a choice for a cookie or an apple. If 75 per cent want the cookie, do you give them all the cookie?”

 

The design will be presented in greater detail at an open house at St. Joseph the Worker Parish Hall, 753 Burnside Rd. W., from 3:30 to 7:30 p.m. on May 18.

 

 

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