Trucks like these have been a long-standing concern in rural Saanich, where a group of residents have been working with the municipality to introduce traffic calming measures in the face of growing traffic volumes. Photo Submitted

Trucks like these have been a long-standing concern in rural Saanich, where a group of residents have been working with the municipality to introduce traffic calming measures in the face of growing traffic volumes. Photo Submitted

Outside traffic threatens safety of rural Saanich

Traffic originating outside of Saanich is increasingly threatening the safety of residents in rural Saanich.

That is message from a group of residents concerned about the state of roads in rural Saanich, specifically, Prospect Lake Road, Sparton Road, Goward Road, southern Old West Saanich Road and Oldfield Road within Saanich.

Members of the group calling itself Livable Roads for Rural Saanich (LRRS) appeared before council last week to raise these issues and expanded on them in a recent interview with the Saanich News.

“It boils down to at-risk users not being able to use the roads they live on,” said Guy Chester, one of the members. “These roads become rat roads to get around the commuter hours,” he said.

This phenomenon appears especially prominent on Prospect Lake Road, Sparton Road, Oldfield Road and the southern section of Old West Saanich Road, he said.

“You can see it during rush hour when it [traffic] stacks up,” said John Potter, another group member. “It’s people coming off the Trans-Canada Highway, and coming off the Island Highway that come up Prospect Lake Road and wiggle through, either going up West Saanich [Road] or through Sparton [Road], travelling north up the Peninsula, because it is just plain quicker for them.” Users have also tried to avoid Highway 17 by way of Interurban Road, Old West Saanich Road and Oldfield Road.

In short, rural Saanich faces what economists call a free-rider problem: it provides a service (roads) but cannot force out-of-area users living on the West Shore or on the Peninsula to contribute to their upkeep, while absorbing various costs, including reduced quality of life. In fact, their heavy, inappropriate use has become dangerous.

“These roads are being misused, whether it be by size, volume or speed,” said Chester. “They are completely unusable for any other type of users [such as pedestrians or cyclists] unless you want to take your lives in your own hand.”

Of particular concern are trucks with a gross vehicle weight (GVW) rating in excess of 5,500 kilograms that use all these roads as shortcuts to Central Saanich in violation of Saanich’s trucking bylaw.

So what is to be done? Pam Harrison, another group member, said the group has been working with Saanich to document the problem and develop traffic calming measures that respect the rural nature of the area. One early success includes the development of a pilot project that will place signs in the area alerting to motorists to other users.

Harrison said she does not want to see the area cut off from the rest of the region.

“Rural Saanich has many values embedded in the Rural Saanich Local Area Plan, which we offer happily to all communities,” she said. “We cover markets, vineyards, [riding], [Elk and Beaver Lakes] all sorts of things,” said Harrison. “Those are quite valuable, and we hope to foster those. It is hard to do that as a cut-through.”

Harrison said the group has also had discussions with the community association in Central Saanich, which has its own set of rural traffic issues.

“Based on what are told by Central Saanich, we are not welcomed because we are not ratepayers in Central Saanich,” said Chester. “Our issues are to be dealt with by Saanich,” added Harrison. This said, the group has had fruitful discussions with the Central Saanich Police.“It is actually because of subsequent work with Central Saanich police that we now have the truck signs up on the Central Saanich portion of Oldfield and Keating, and we have had positive dialogues with [Central Saanich],” she said. “This cooperation has been achieved by LRRS efforts.”

The group has not given much thought to taking their case to neighbouring communities, or even the Capital Regional District. Rather, it has focused on building up credibility with Saanich staff to help come up with a local solution in the absence of a regional approach, said Leo Polowich.

“We know that problem is not going to go away, said Chester. “So how are we going to mitigate it? We know the pressure is not going to go away. Langford and Colwood aren’t going to stop building permits.”

Potter agrees. “At the end of the day, we are pretty sure that the only people who can do anything about this is Saanich, so that is where we are focusing on,” he said.

But it is not hard to hear the frustrations of the group, which feels municipalities work in silos at the expense of the greater whole. “It is just one example of the ludicrous nature of having 13 municipalities,” said Chester.


Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter

wolfgang.depner@saanichnews.com

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Grandmothers to Grandmothers is a campaign that connects Canadian grandmothers with grandmothers in Africa who are caring for children orphaned by AIDS. Here, they are in Kakuto, Uganda in 2018. (Kibuuka Mukisa Oscar photo)
Greater Victoria and African grandmothers celebrate solidarity with virtual concert

Grandmothers to Grandmothers supports women in Africa caring for children orphaned by AIDS

Naloxone is used to treat opioid overdoses. (Black Press Media files)
Island Health issues overdose advisory for Greater Victoria

The advisory directs bystanders to an overdose to call 911 and administer naloxone

A vehicle that was driven through the wall of a parkade at Uptown Shopping Centre and into the nearby Walmart on April 9 was removed through another hole in the wall later that night. (Photo via Saanich Police Department and Ayush Kakkar)
Driver who crashed into Uptown Walmart likely suffering mental health crisis, police say

Man in his early 20s drove through a parkade wall, no serious injuries reported

Supporter Gordy Dodd cheers on HeroWork Victoria executive director Trevor Botkin, who will be in a lift for 36 hours beside Dodd’s Furniture and Mattress on April 16 and 17 to raise funds for the organization’s next project, a makeover of the Salvation Army’s Addiction and Rehabilitation Centre on Johnson Street. (Courtesy HeroWork Victoria)
HeroWork Victoria tackles makeover of Salvation Army rehab centre

Executive director to spend 36 hours living in a lift as fundraiser

West Shore RCMP is seeking information about a collision involving a car and a bicycle on Six Mile Road, near the Island Highway, at 11:30 a.m. on April 7. (Black Press Media file photo)
West Shore RCMP seeks information about collision between bike, car

Collision occured on Six Mile Road on April 7 and a bystander got the blue car’s plate number

Restaurant patrons enjoy the weather on a patio in Vancouver, B.C., Monday, April 5, 2021. The province has restricted indoor dining at all restaurants in B.C. due to a spike in COVID-19 numbers. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward
B.C.’s COVID-19 indoor dining, drinking ban extending into May

Restaurant association says patio rules to be clarified

Two men were seen removing red dresses alongside the Island Highway in Oyster Bay. (Submitted photo)
Two men filmed removing red dresses from trees on highway near Ladysmith

Activists hung the dresses to raise awareness for Vancouver Island’s Murdered/Missing Women & Girls

B.C. Premier John Horgan speaks at the B.C. legislature. (B.C. government)
Tougher COVID-19 restrictions in B.C., including travel, still ‘on the table’: Horgan

John Horgan says travel restrictions will be discussed Wednesday by the provincial cabinet

RCMP on scene yesterday at the altercation at the trailer park. (Submitted photo)
Violent altercation at Port Hardy trailer park sends one to hospital

Police say man confronted another over airsoft shooting, then was attacked with a weapon

John Albert Buchanan was found guilty of manslaughter in the 2017 death of Richard Sitar. Pictured here, Buchanan walking to the court in Nanaimo last year. (Karl Yu/News Bulletin)
Six years including time served for Nanaimo man in bludgeoning death

John Albert Buchanan sentenced in B.C. Supreme Court in Nanaimo for death of Richard Sitar

Flow Academy is not accepting membership applications from anybody who has received a dose of the vaccine, according to a password-protected membership application form. (Submitted image)
B.C. martial arts gym refusing patrons who have been vaccinated, wear masks

Interior Health has already issued a ticket to Flow Academy for non-compliance with public health orders

Guinevere, lovingly referred to by Jackee Sullivan and her family as Gwenny, is in need of a gynecological surgery. The family is raising money to help offset the cost of the procedure. (Jackee Sullivan/Special to Langley Advance Times)
Langley lizard’s owners raise funds for gynecological surgery

The young reptile is scheduled for operation on Tuesday

Facebook screenshot of the sea lion on Holberg Road. (Greg Clarke Facebook video)
VIDEO: Sea lion randomly spotted on remote B.C. logging road

Greg Clarke was driving home on the Holberg Road April 12, when he saw a large sea lion.

Defence counsel for the accused entered two not guilty pleas by phone to Grand Forks Provincial Court Tuesday, Jan. 12. File photo
B.C. seafood company owner fined $25K for eating receipt, obstructing DFO inspection

Richmond company Tenshi Seafood is facing $75,000 in fines as decided March 4 by a provincial court judge

Most Read