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Road safety demonstration at Saanich municipal hall planned for Friday

Advocates plan to push harder for improvements in wake of teen’s tragic death
A demonstration will occur outside of Saanich Municipal Hall this Friday at 2 p.m. (Dec. 10) calling for more road safety improvements, in light of a Dec. 6 traffic incident that left a Saanich teen dead. (Black Press Media file photo)

Community road safety advocates are planning a demonstration outside Saanich municipal hall Friday (Dec. 10) in the wake of the death of Kaydence Bourque, a teen who was struck by a vehicle in a crosswalk near his home on Monday.

The demonstration, set for 2 p.m., is being held to show solidarity for the 16-year-old Reynolds student and to call for better safety on Saanich roads, said organizer Philip Marciniak.

“I’d like to offer my condolences and thoughts to the family of the young person that lost their life, above all else. I walk around and cycle a lot and that has shaped my view on how badly lacking Saanich roads are,” Marciniak told Black Press Media, adding the tragic incident further demonstrates the need for urgent change.

Bourque was pronounced dead on Dec. 7, less than 24 hours after he was hit in a marked crosswalk by a vehicle near the intersection of Cedar Hill Cross Road and Merriman Drive.

ALSO READ: Youth struck by vehicle in Saanich crosswalk dies in hospital

Marciniak tweeted that the intention of the demonstration is to express public frustration with a community presence on District of Saanich property. “Meeting other residents and discussing concerns and sharing stories would be empowering,” he wrote.

Elise Cote, a member of road safety advocacy group Better Mobility Saanich, said efforts that have gone into the district’s Active Transportation Plan need to be implemented in real time, without delay.

At a marked crosswalk in the spring, Cote said, a motorist in an SUV nearly hit her seven-year-old child as the driver turned right on a solid green without first checking for pedestrians. Cote jumped on the SUV to protect her child, who had entered the crosswalk just before her, a situation that could have been potentially fatal, she said.

Cote said she’s spoken with many in the community who have experienced similar close calls, who are not surprised by Monday’s tragedy. “If no one is surprised, why aren’t we doing anything? We need to look at the alternatives and be really bold,” she said.

“Our hearts go out to the family during this extremely difficult time. One traffic-related fatality will always be one too many,” Saanich communications manager Megan Catalano said. “We hear the concerns and calls for improvements to road safety and agree more needs to be done.”

Saanich has shifted its focus from car and driver-oriented policies and designs to prioritize active travel such as walking and cycling through the Active Transportation Plan, she added.

In 2021, council approved an additional $2 million a year for new infrastructure for pedestrians and cyclists. The new funding will bring the district’s total investment for safer modern streets to $58 million over the next three years, Catalano said.

“We have many initiatives planned for 2022 including new sidewalks, new crosswalks, and improvements in a number of our key corridors.”

ALSO READ: Saanich councillor experiences stress-free cycle due to Shelbourne improvements

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