This drone photo taken by Ministry of Transportation and Infrastructure in the summer of 2018 shows construction of the McKenzie Interchange. Coun. Judy Brownoff has questioned the wisdom of investing more than $80 million dollars. (Photo courtesy of the Ministry of Transportation and Infrastructure)

This drone photo taken by Ministry of Transportation and Infrastructure in the summer of 2018 shows construction of the McKenzie Interchange. Coun. Judy Brownoff has questioned the wisdom of investing more than $80 million dollars. (Photo courtesy of the Ministry of Transportation and Infrastructure)

Saanich councillor slams McKenzie Interchange Project

Coun. Judy Brownoff said the project will only create more greenhouses gases and traffic

Saanich’s longest serving councillor questioned the McKenzie Interchange Project as she slammed senior spheres of government for their respective transportation policies.

Coun. Judy 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 McKenzie Interchange Project at the intersection of the Trans-Canada Highway with Admirals Road and McKenzie Avenue in Saanich ranks among the most significant infrastructure projects in the region in recent memory. Years in planning, the project broke ground in September 2016 with an initial budget of $85 million with funding coming both from the provincial and the federal government.

Official documents say the “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.

RELATED: Saanich intersections rank as Island’s three worst

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.

RELATED: McKenzie Interchange pump failure sends contaminated water into Colquitz River

RELATED: McKenzie interchange project sees delays

RELATED: $11 million overdraw for McKenzie Interchange construction

Once completed, Brownoff predicts that the project will only attract more traffic. “We cannot keep building bigger and bigger roads,” she said. “They don’t work. [They] just gobble more land and create more greenhouses gases, only for them to get full again.”

With this commentary, Brownoff echoes the theory that increasing the capacity of roads actually creates more traffic.

Brownoff also wondered why the current New Democratic provincial government has abandoned efforts by the previous government to bring some form of Light Rapid Transit (LRT) to the region.

“Nobody talks about LRT anymore,” she said.

While critics of the B.C. Liberals had questioned the sincerity of those efforts, New Democratic Premier John Horgan last year pumped the breaks on reviving the abandoned E&N Railway line. This said, pressure from Greater Victoria mayors has kept the idea on life support.

RELATED: Studies for E&N corridor still on track after BC Transit investments

It should also be pointed out that the current provincial government has invested some $30 million in a system of continuous bus lanes in both directions between the Mackenzie Interchange and downtown Victoria.

Notably, that investment might actually underscore Brownoff’s point about the efficacy of public transit as buses carry 40 per cent of the people taking that route during peak hours, with buses themselves accounting for only three per cent of the traffic.

Brownoff’s critique came as Saanich council upped its climate change fighting goals. The new goals commit Saanich to cut community-wide greenhouse gases (GHGs) by 50 per cent below 2007 levels by 2030. The previous goal called for a reduction of 80 per cent below 2007 levels by 2050. The new climate goals also call for zero net emissions before 2050 as a complement to the target of becoming a 100 renewable energy community by 2080.

RELATED: Saanich council considers more ambitious climate change goals

Several councillors said the new goals respond to the urgency of the situation, while acknowledging that fulfillment of the new goals will require a collective effort from the community at large, businesses, and senior spheres of government.

“Saanich may be a leader, but we need help,” said Coun. Karen Harper. “The Feds and the province have to step up. The rest of the world has to step up, quite frankly. But we are willing to do everything that we can.”

Council also urged Ottawa and Victoria to match Saanich’s goals


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

A report by investigator Mary Ellen Turpel-Lafond found “widespread systemic racism against Indigenous people” in a report released Monday.
Peninsula hospital one where ‘significant work underway’

Investigation finds ‘widespread systemic racism against Indigenous people’ in provincial health care

(Courtesy of West Shore RCMP)
Second driver facing impaired charges after View Royal traffic stop leads to loaded firearms

West Shore RCMP stop swerving motorist and Saanich woman who came to pick her up

Victoria police issued tickets to two Victoria party hosts Saturday night, according to VicPD Chief Del Manak. (Unsplash)
Victoria partiers hid in closets, bedrooms in an attempt to avoid fines

Police gave out COVID-19 tickets to two separate parties

Classes are cancelled at Royal Bay Secondary School and other schools Nov. 30 due to power outages. (Black Press Media file photo)
Classes cancelled across the West Shore, Sooke due to power outages

Students can be picked up but facilities remain open

Higher sales of cannabis helped Canadian farmers come out in the green. (Black Press Media File)
Higher cannabis sales grew the income of Canadian farmers

Higher cannabis receipts added $1.7 billion to the revenue of farmers

A bus shelter in White Rock is emblazoned with an ad from B.C.’s Office of the Human Rights Commissioner on Sunday, Nov. 29, 2020. (Black Press Media files)
VIDEO: ‘Am I racist?’ campaign asks British Columbians to confront their unconscious biases

Signs asking British Columbians to think about racial injustice have been put up across the province

Black Press Media and BraveFace have come together to support children facing life-threatening conditions. Net proceeds from these washable, reusable, three-layer masks go to Make-A-Wish Foundation BC & Yukon.
Put on a BraveFace: Help make children’s wishes come true

Black Press Media, BraveFace host mask fundraiser for Make-A-Wish Foundation

Kootenay East MLA Tom Shypitka takes over as energy and mines critic for the B.C. Liberal opposition. Kelowna-Lake Country MLA Norm Letnick (right) moves from health critic to assistant deputy speaker. (Hansard TV)
B.C. Liberals pick critics to take on Horgan’s NDP majority

Interim leader Shirley Bond takes seniors, long-term care

Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Finance Chrystia Freeland listens to a question from a reporter on the phone during a news conference in Ottawa, Monday, Nov. 30, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld
Spending too little worse than spending too much, Freeland says as Canada’s deficit tops $381B

‘The risk of providing too little support now outweighs that of providing too much’

Left to right: A screenshot of NTC nurse navigator Lesley Cerney, FNHA regional mental health manager Georjeana Paterson and Island Health’s medical health officer Dr. Charmaine Enns addressing Ehattesaht community members from Ehatis reserve in a Facebook live update. (Ehattesaht First Nation/Facebook)
Medical team sent to Ehatis reserve near Zeballos to guide community through COVID outbreak

17 cases, eight recoveries and no hospitalizations as Island Health praises First Nation’s response

Still from a video surveillance camera of a man alleged to have stolen from several people at knife-point in Chilliwack (Rosedale) early on Nov. 28, 2020. (Facebook)
B.C. man defends his family against intruder, saves neighbour while wielding hockey stick

RCMP looking for footage that captures violent crime spree in Chilliwack

Harbour seals rest on log booms at Flavelle Mill in Port Hardy. With recent announcements the mill will be getting rid of the log booms, Dr. David Rosen sees an opportunity to study how the disappearance of this highly-frequented refuge for the seals will alter their behaviour in Burrard Inlet. (Photo supplied by David Rosen)
What the heck is going on with marine mamals in Vancouver waterways?

UBC researcher asks why they’re returning, and what role we’re playing

Jim Neufeld, 55, was last seen leaving his home in Penticton Jan. 21, 2009. (RCMP photo)
Human remains found off U.S. coast in 2009 identified as Penticton man

Jim Neufeld, 55, was last seen leaving his home in Penticton Jan. 21, 2009

Remains of the scene off Melrose Road in Whiskey Creek where three bodies were found on Nov. 1, 2020. (Mandy Moraes photo)
Probe continues into grisly mid-Island discovery of 3 human bodies, 4 dead dogs

Police still want to speak with motorist who picked up hitchhikers near scene on Nov. 1

Most Read