A statement from the Ministry of Transportation and Infrastructure says the McKenzie Interchange Project (here shown in a drone photo from the summer of 2018) will lead “significantly lower greenhouse gas emissions” once completed. (Ministry of Transportation and Infrastructure photo)

Province rejects criticism from Saanich councillor over McKenzie Interchange

Transportation ministry says project will ‘significantly lower’ greenhouse gas emissions

The provincial government is defending the McKenzie Interchange Project against the recent criticism from a Saanich councillor.

The Ministry of Transportation and Infrastructure said in a statement that the McKenzie Interchange will reduce congestion and provide substantial travel time savings, once completed.

The statement said later that the project once completed will reduce idling and fuel consumption at the intersection, “leading to significantly lower greenhouse gas emissions.”

RELATED: Saanich councillor slams McKenzie Interchange Project

The ministry issued the statement after Coun. Judy Brownoff questioned the McKenzie Interchange Project during a recent council meeting.

Brownoff said both the provincial and federal government need to do more around transportation and buildings to help reduce the emissions of greenhouse gases (GHGs) responsible for climate change. “They have to be more engaged around those high priority areas,” she said. It was within this context that Brownoff criticized the project.

“For instance, investing over $80 million on a new interchange, which will create more greenhouse gases, instead of investing it into public transit,” she said.

The statement from the ministry echoes the official claim that “project will help improve traffic flow in the Capital Regional District, while reducing collisions and improving pedestrian and cyclist safety” as experts deem the intersection the “number one bottleneck” on Vancouver Island, a point supported by traffic flow numbers, as well as motor vehicle collisions.

The ministry’s statement notes that separating the Galloping Goose Trail from McKenzie Avenue has already improved safety for cyclists and is encouraging more commuters to try cycling. while the addition of dedicated bus lanes within the interchange project will further improve travel times and reliability for those commuting by transit.

But the project has also received criticism from environmentalists concerned about its impact on nearby Colquitz Creek and concerns about its final price tag are growing after the provincial government confirmed that the project has exceeded its budget by $11 million.

Finally, the project has gone well beyond its original completion date of fall 2018 with completion now scheduled for summer 2020.

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