More than 10 municipalities in the Capital Regional District will join Saanich in a road speed reduction pilot. (Devon Bidal/News Staff)

Saanich in driver’s seat for residential road speed reduction pilot project

District recruits 10 CRD municipalities to join pilot project to look at 40 km/h residential limit

Nearly a dozen municipalities across the Capital Regional District (CRD) could see lower speed limits on residential roads starting this fall.

According to Saanich Mayor Fred Haynes, the District of Saanich has recruited 10 other local municipalities for a pilot project to look at reducing residential road speeds to 40 km/h through the Motor Vehicle Act (MVA).

This has “never been done before” but it’s “a long time coming” for Saanich and the region, he said. A “blanket reduction in residential road speeds” would bring about much-needed changes in local driver behaviour and “improve the family experience” across the region, Haynes explained.

In November 2019, Haynes penned a letter to B.C. Premier John Horgan calling for a province-wide residential road speed reduction within the MVA. Currently, the speed limit in municipalities is 50 km/h unless otherwise posted, but Haynes cited high collision rates in saying speeds should be reduced to 40 km/h on residential roads – those without a centre line.

At the time, he explained that while municipal governments have the power to change local speed limits with bylaws, doing so presents financial barriers and could leave the region with a lack of speed consistency.

In February, the Ministry of Transportation explained that a province-wide speed reduction was a big undertaking and instead invited Saanich to take part in a two-phase road safety pilot project – enabled by an amendment to the MVA – which would allow the municipality to work with the province to reduce the default residential road speeds.

Saanich council accepted the province’s invitation in March and invited other mayors across the CRD to do the same. So far, 10 have agreed to join Saanich in considering the pilot project which could last up to three years, Haynes said.

Haynes added that while he couldn’t reveal which municipalities had agreed to take part, he said conversations have been “very productive” with all CRD municipalities. The goal is to avoid a “patchwork” of road speeds across the region so Haynes is hoping that more municipalities join in.

He added that he’s “really proud that Saanich is leading on this.” The pilot project will provide the province with data regarding residential road speed reductions and will allow to the B.C. government to assess whether the MVA should be “modernized,” Haynes said.

He noted that applications for the pilot project will open sometime in September.

devon.bidal@saanichnews.com

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