Police step up enforcement for busiest weekend of summer

"Anywhere people and vehicles might congregate will be a focus for us," said Saanich police Sgt. Dean Jantzen. "We have a significant complement of officers working this weekend … targeting our main through-roads: the highways, McKenzie (Avenue), Quadra (Street)."

We’ll be watching.

That’s the message police want drivers to hear before one of the busiest and deadliest long weekends of the summer.

“Anywhere people and vehicles might congregate will be a focus for us,” said Saanich police Sgt. Dean Jantzen. “We have a significant complement of officers working this weekend … targeting our main through-roads: the highways, McKenzie (Avenue), Quadra (Street).”

Tickets will be handed out for speed and alcohol-related offences, as well as aggressive driving behaviour and for breaking the hands-free law.

According to ICBC, there is an average of five fatalities on B.C. roads over the Labour Day long weekend. There is an average of 745 crashes, 515 resulting in injuries.

“Forty per cent of these occur at intersections,” Jantzen said. “If everybody vowed to approach intersections with caution and reduce their speed, that would have a significant impact on these statistics that we put out regularly.”

As Saanich is home to the University of Victoria and two Camosun College campuses, police are aware of the return of post-secondary students this weekend.

Road accesses to and from UVic and Camosun get noticeably more congested, Jantzen said.

In Victoria, officers will be ensuring that alcohol doesn’t fuel any problems, as the CounterAttack and Late Night, Great Night programs will be operating.

Extra officers are expected to patrol the downtown during busier evenings due to a higher student presence.

“It’s going to be a busy weekend for us. We have a lot of the university students that are back and they typically congregate downtown,” said VicPD Const. Mike Russell.

The Making the Malahat Safer campaign will still be in effect, as officers from the region’s police forces “continue to aggressively enforce traffic laws on this dangerous stretch of highway,” according to an RCMP press release.

Since Canada Day, officers have issued more than 1,460 violation tickets on the Malahat – 1,198 for speeding.

kslavin@saanichnews.com