A Central Saanich councillor said he would not be surprised if council were to look at lowering speed limits in Brentwood Bay in the future.
The current speed limit on all streets in Brentwood Bay in 40 kilometres per hour, unless previously signed, following a decision by the previous council. Efforts by Coun. Carl Jensen to drop this limit to 30 kilometres per hour on smaller residential roads failed.
“At the time, it wasn’t supported by that council, ” he said. “Now, with the current council, there have been some discussions, I would say, informal discussions at this point, and what I would say is that I wouldn’t be surprised if you see further discussions or a motion coming forward at the council table looking at that as well.”
While Brentwood Bay has taken some steps in that direction, other neighbourhoods might have to follow.
“We need to take a look at Tanner Ridge and Saanichton as well,” he said. “Are we happy with 40 kilometres per hour on residential streets or do we want to look at 30 kilometres per hour.”
The question of speed limits on the municipality’s road network of 135 kilometres of local roads (plus 15 kilometres of bike lanes) has been a topic of much discussion in recent years. (By way of background, Central Saanich’s traffic bylaw states that “no person shall operate a vehicle upon a highway within the District at a greater rate of speed than 50 kilometres per hour, except where otherwise indicated by a traffic control device).
During this time, many residents having complained loudly about excessive speeds, especially in residential neighbourhood and around local schools, but also along major feeder roads, including West Saanich Road and Wallace Drive, which stand accused of being unsafe for pedestrians and cyclists.
“Speeding vehicles is also a concern and there have been suggestions for traffic calming in various neighbourhoods,” reads a 2019 staff report to council. This said, the same report also concludes that “in general, Central Saanich has an average number of ICBC claims, suggesting that there is not a significant problem with road safety.”
To help deal with excessive speeding, Jensen has been pushing for higher speeding fines, an agenda that has met with recent success when Central Saanich council forwarded a motion calling on the province to raise spending fines to the Association of Vancouver Island and Coastal Communities (AVICC). The motion could then appear for discussion at the 2020 Union of British Columbia Municipalities conference Sept. 21 to 25 in Victoria, B.C. if AVICC delegates were to endorse it at their 2020 convention April 17-19 in Nanaimo.
Jensen, who currently serves as AVICC’s president, acknowledges that the volume of UBCM motions aimed at the provincial government can make it challenging to be heard.
“I would hope that this would be one that could rise to the top to what is achievable,” he said. “Certainly, there is an increased focus on road safety. This [motion] would be something that would fall into the provincial government’s strategic objective of trying to make our road safer and also reduce fatalities [under Vision Zero].”
When asked about whether Central Saanich might also push for lower speed limits on Highway 17 — which runs through the municipality, but remains outside its jurisdiction — Jensen said he has not heard much concern from residents.
“Personally, I am not hearing a lot of feedback from residents about that being a concern per se,” he said. “The concerns I hear on the council table are more about the residential streets.”
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