Saanich must consider arterial road systems

Preoccupation with the McKenzie overpass of Highway 1 has unfortunately blinded us to associated traffic issues

Funding for a McKenzie overpass of Highway 1 is good news but preoccupation with that project has unfortunately blinded us to associated traffic issues.

West Shore communities generate much of the daily traffic flow and they also have had the foresight to consider their own internal arterial roads systems; first with Veterans Parkway and now with new West Shore Parkway Extension. Colwood recently prepared its own transportation plan.

Unfortunately other municipalities have not reciprocated with meaningful plans for arterial roadways. This failure will merely perpetuate the current pattern of road congestion and traffic using local roads to avoid congestion points.

Apparently the current OCP for Saanich other than Highways 1 and 17 and West Saanich Road designates no other roads as major arterial routes or truck routes.

The current road system in the region clearly forces traffic toward Uptown and/or the north south arterial Highway 17 despite the fact Exhibit A.12 of the CRD Transportation Plan shows peak traffic flows already exceed capacity of Highway 1.

The CRD Regional Transportation Plan forces all traffic to drive around Saanich West – i.e. to go north you must first head towards the city centre. Why do we want to force all traffic to converge in this manner? There is clearly a disconnect between regional planning, trip patterns and reality. That plan, in its fervor to assign priority to transit/cycling, completely ignores the major issue of traffic congestion.

CRD studies advise that over 65 per cent of all auto traffic is intermunicipal, whereby regional residents must cross through Saanich to get to two major regional employment centres, airport/ferry, UVic, Camosun, downtown, etc.

While attempts to encourage and increase a shift to transit and cycling is laudable, it will at best only result in a shift of 10 to 15 per cent. Meanwhile the number of over 800,000 daily vehicle movements will increase by 140,000.

Avoiding the need for arterial routes through District of Saanich may meet the desires of residents of West Saanich but provides residents of other parts of the region with no reasonable alternatives. It seems somewhat unfair as a whole that a municipality that will receive massive infrastructure funding makes no municipal investments to address these implications.

This issue will be discussed further in a future letter to the editor.

James Anderson