Both of these articles, as well as an appearance before Saanich council on May 28 by the Cadboro Bay Residents Association, have a common theme. Saanich residents fear for their safety when using Saanich streets. The residents claim traffic is going too fast for road conditions, while the municipality counters that they don’t see a problem.
The residents on Maplewood called on Saanich to reduce the speed limit and increase enforcement, as did the presenters for Livable Roads for Rural Saanich. Saanich’s response to Maplewood, “there is no problem”, is the same one received by residents in rural Saanich many times in the past. At the May 28 council meeting, LRRS was told their concerns would be referred to two committees. These committees have looked at these ongoing problems in the past, and always come back with “there is no problem”. A well known active community member, who was on the recent governance committee, once said “Committees in Saanich are where good ideas go to die.”
Perhaps Saanich council should try to explain that there is no problem to the parents of the 12-year-old girl hit in a marked crosswalk on Ash Road last fall. As far as I know, she is still in a coma in hospital. It should be noted, that after that accident, Saanich said that intersection had been on their radar for a long time. It is too bad that they chose to take no action until after the accident was highlighted in this newspaper.
Saanich is in the process of drawing up an Active Transportation Plan which encourages residents to use other forms of transportation, such as walking and cycling. This plan is doomed to failure as long as Saanich refuses to acknowledge that people won’t walk or cycle on streets where they don’t feel safe.
So what is the solution to this standoff? Elected politicians are supposed to listen and act (within reason) on the concerns of their constituents. But instead of acting in the best interest of the voters, they have chosen to listen to municipal staff and police, who have their own, different, agendas. Denying a problem exists doesn’t make it go away, as the 12-year-old Ash Road girl would tell you, if she was able. Many Saanich councillors have been in office far too long, and have grown fat and comfortable with the status quo. When politicians fail repeatedly to live up to expectations, it is time for a change.