Saanich has been invited to take part in a road safety pilot project through the Ministry of Transportation and Infrastructure that could enact speed reductions on residential streets. (Black Press Media file photo)

Province invites Saanich to take part in road safety pilot project

Council to consider inviting neighbouring municipalities to join

The Ministry of Transportation and Infrastructure (MoTI) has invited Saanich to take part in a two-phase road safety pilot project in 2020.

After months of back and forth with the provincial government, Saanich Mayor Fred Haynes is hopeful about moving forward with speed reductions on residential streets – those without a centre line – through the MoTI pilot project.

According to Haynes, road safety is one of the top concerns among residents and the issue isn’t exclusive to the District. The provincial government currently sets a speed limit of 50 km/h in cities unless otherwise posted, but many municipalities want it reduced to 40 km/h on residential roads, Haynes explained.

READ ALSO: Saanich mayor tasks province with lowering speeds to avoid patchwork of municipal bylaws

In November 2019, Haynes wrote to B.C. Premier John Horgan calling for a province-wide change to residential speed limits through the provincial Motor Vehicles Act (MVA). Haynes wrote that while municipalities have the ability to enact bylaws to change road speeds, doing so presents financial implications and a lack of speed consistency from one municipality to the next.

In December, Haynes told Black Press Media that Horgan’s office had replied asking that the Saanich mayor direct his request to the Ministry of Transportation and Infrastructure.

READ ALSO: Crash renews Saanich residents’ concern about safety on Tillicum Road

In February, B.C. Minister of Transportation and Infrastructure Claire Trevena wrote to Haynes on behalf of the premier. In the letter, Trevena explained that while the province is considering Saanich’s request to amend the MVA, doing so would present many challenges.

Instead, Trevena proposed that Saanich take part in a two-phase pilot project in 2020. Phase one would focus on zero-emission transportation and phase two would allow the province to work alongside interested municipalities to reduce their default speed limits.

READ ALSO: More than half of Saanich’s 10 worst intersections include McKenzie Avenue

Haynes has asked Saanich council to consider sending a letter to the other mayors in the Capital Regional District explaining that Saanich will apply for the second phase of the pilot project to reduce residential road speeds to 40 km/h and asking them to do so as well in the name of consistency.

During a meeting on March 9, Saanich council will consider Haynes’ request for the District to send a letter to the other mayors in the Capital Regional District asking them to join Saanich in applying for the second phase of the pilot project to reduce residential road speeds to 40 km/h.

“The time to support our most vulnerable transportation users is now,” Haynes wrote in a draft of the letter.

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