Slope poses hazard on Saanich road edge

District says roadside at corner of Saanich and Easter will be among priorities for this year

Chris Williams navigates the steep shoulder of the road at the intersection of Saanich and Easter roads. The district says a project to mitigate the steep grade along the roadside will be a priority for this year.

Chris Williams navigates the steep shoulder of the road at the intersection of Saanich and Easter roads. The district says a project to mitigate the steep grade along the roadside will be a priority for this year.

A steep slope along one Saanich roadway is creating a potential hazard for pedestrians in the area.

Chris Williams lives on Saanich Road, and often sees first-hand the challenge the road outside his door can present topassersby.

“I’ve seen people almost get hit so many times. I’ve seen people fall over and trip, even young people, so you can imaginesomeone in a wheelchair,” said Williams of the intersection of Saanich and Easter.

The two roads intersect along a steep embankment that reaches to road level.

“When they come down [Easter Road] here they almost have to use the road, and that can be a real problem for someonewith a baby stroller or walker.”

Saanich director of engineering Harley Machielse said the district is aware of the problem. The district’s subdivision bylawon new construction calls for the property to be within a five per cent grade of the boulevard area. But that bylaw does notcover many older areas in Saanich, which can have a grade far beyond the five per cent requirement.

“It’s definitely a difficult pinch point for pedestrians. There are locations like this with issues and conflicts in pocketsaround the municipality,” said Machielse.

“Easter and Saanich is a legal crossing for pedestrians, but today we notice that there isn’t a connection directly to thesidewalk on the other side. That’s one of the things we’ll look at in the short term, is how do we at least provide a stub outfrom that sidewalk to the intersection so people can make that connection.”

He said the project will be among hundreds of short-term improvements, along with numerous larger projects, scheduledto be undertaken sometime this year. Machielse said issues like the Easter Road intersection were among the manyidentified through the first phase of the district’s active transportation plan.

“We went out and consulted with the public and asked for feedback on issues just like this one. They helped flag a numberof them through our interactive map survey. We now have a data collection of several hundred comments from the publicon issues they’d like to see addressed.”

But levelling out the shoulder along Easter Road will not solve all the issues Williams sees from the home his mother haslived in for more than 20 years.

He said if people were able to cross Saanich Road at Easter to the sidewalk on the west side, they would have to cross backafter only a few steps if they were going to the northbound bus stop.

“Who’s going to cross the road, go a few feet down the road and then cross back to get to the bus stop?”

Navigating those few steps on the eastern side of Saanich Road can be difficult, again because of the steep slope,particularly along Williams’ driveway which drops sharply at the road.

Machielse said mitigating the steep slope could be a complex task, with the work extending beyond the 4.5 metres from theroad edge that is consider municipal boulevard, and onto private property.

“For this particular [project] it would take a little bit more work than just some fill,” he said. “There’s potentially retainingwalls that would need to be built. And there’s going to have to be co-operation with the property owner, which it soundslike he would be open to.”