Community association opposes McKenzie interchange design

Gorge Tillicum Community Association not represented at ministry announcement

It is to be expected that a project like the McKenzie interchange should ruffle some feathers.  We were prepared for that.  But what we didn’t expect, was a popularity contest.  Of the few ‘hundreds’ of folks who gave the ministry feedback, how many of them have ever set foot in Cuthbert Holmes Park?  How many realize that it is home to a rare urban estuary, a federal bird sanctuary and the Colquitz River, where hundreds of wild coho, herring and cutthroat trout return each year? You like fishing for them off the new Craigflower Bridge, but do you know the reason they live?

According to the province’s own documents, there is no time-saving difference between their two options.  So why then should we place this cloverleaf so close to the river and inside the park?

Our community association, perhaps the strongest, most organized association in Saanich, asked a lot of questions of these designs and even presented a fourth option. We were, perhaps, a thorn in the ministry’s side but, like all good citizens, we had the best of intentions and were certainly not ‘NIMBY’ in our approach.

Despite the fact that we have a large, encompassing membership in the neighbourhood, at last week’s announcement, the ministry trotted PISCES, a “not-for-profit society concerned about environment and safety issues in the Portage Inlet and the upper Gorge Waterways,” up on stage and propped them up as the ‘community’ representatives in an attempt to show ‘community engagement’.  This society is made up of a small number of residents from Portage Inlet and is not representative of Gorge Tillicum (or the surrounding community associations.)  PISCES in no way represents the community, the park users or the park stewards groups.  In fact, the Saanich supported park stewards stand at odds with them on this, and most other issues.  By having these folks up on the podium to ‘demonstrate’ local support, the BC Liberals have perpetrated a kind of hoax on the public.

To be clear, The Gorge Tillicum Community Association – which represents a community that will be highly impacted by the interchange – has not endorsed this design.

Scott Karpes, vice-president, Pam Loadman, transportation chair

Gorge Tillicum Community Association