Saanich Mayor Fred Haynes says staff are constantly monitoring residents’ road safety concerns. (Black Press Media file photo)

Saanich considers closing some streets to vehicle traffic to make room for pedestrians

No new road closures currently planned, mayor says

Saanich Mayor Fred Haynes has asked Emergency Operations Centre staff to consider residents’ requests to close some roads to vehicle traffic during the COVID-19 pandemic.

On April 22, Haynes announced on Twitter that he’d heard from many residents in favour of closing some Saanich streets to vehicle traffic during the pandemic. He added that he’d be bringing the issue up with the District’s Emergency Operations Center (EOC) to find out what the options are.

READ ALSO: COVID-19: Victoria limits parking in James Bay to create space for pedestrians

Saanich residents have said sidewalks are crowded and that since streets are quieter due to reduced traffic volumes, lanes may be better used by pedestrians needing to practice social distancing, Haynes explained.

He added that many have also pointed out that other municipalities have made the decision to close some roads to vehicles – Stanley Park was closed to vehicle traffic on April 8 and the City of Victoria limited on-street parking in James Bay to give pedestrians more room starting April 23 – to make more room for cyclists and pedestrians needing to social distance.

Haynes pointed out that Saanich closed Mount Douglas Park to vehicle traffic over the Easter long weekend. In an effort to ease congestion and make room for the increased number of pedestrians, the gate on Churchill Drive was closed from April 10 to 13 – blocking drivers from taking their cars to the summit. Residents cooperated with the closure and the District was “very pleased” with the results, Haynes said.

READ ALSO: B.C. enacts provincial order to move homeless at Victoria encampments into hotels

Friends of Mount Douglas Park Society President Darrell Wick reached out to council ahead of the long weekend calling for Churchill Drive to be closed to vehicle traffic for the duration of the pandemic. He was pleased to see the park closed to traffic over Easter but wished the closure had continued past April 13.

The Saanich EOC has considered closing some roads to drivers during the pandemic and is continuing to monitor the issue, said Megan Catalano, information officer for the EOC.

“At this time we’re not planning to close any streets,” she explained. “The only closure we have in place is on the Tillicum Bridge where we closed one traffic lane for pedestrian use.”

READ ALSO: Mount Douglas Park closed to vehicle traffic over long weekend

Haynes is asking the EOC staff to take another look at road closures but he emphasized that “just because another city does it, doesn’t mean we [Saanich] have to do it; it just means we should look into it.”

He added that District staff have taken a “data-driven” approach to all decisions and are doing the same with the matter of road closures. It’s a “risk-benefit analysis,” he explained because there could be enforcement issues and closing streets would affect traffic patterns.

Saanich hasn’t seen the same issues that other cities have seen so it’s not a top priority but Haynes emphasized that residents’ concerns are being heard and that “[staff] are looking into this all the time.”


@devonscarlett
Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

devon.bidal@saanichnews.com

CoronavirusDistrict of SaanichTraffic

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

North Saanich artist brightens pandemic with whimsical signs

Artist Anna Trelford decorates her fence with signs that riff on COVID-19 pandemic

Man who bound, murdered Langford teen still a risk to public: parole board

Kimberly Proctor’s killer is still ‘mismanaging emotions,’ has had ‘temper tantrums’

Traffic redirected after crash on McKenzie Avenue

Saanich Police responded to Thursday evening collision

Tour de Victoria postpones 10th annual ride to 2021

Ride that draws more than 3,000 cyclists to Greater Victoria was set for August

Mission prison COVID-19 outbreak ends, 9 new cases in B.C.

New positive test at Port Coquitlam care home

POLL: Do you agree with the provincial government’s decision to increase the minimum wage?

B.C.’s lowest-paid workers will be getting a few more dollars to try… Continue reading

VIDEO: Humpback whales put on quite a show

The ‘playful’ pod lingered by a Campbell River tour operator’s boat for quite some time

Getting hitched at historic B.C. gold rush town still on table during COVID-19 pandemic

Micro-weddings, online visits, offered at Barkerville Historic Town and Park

Stolen gargoyle returns to its perch on central Vancouver Island yard

Petey, a concrete gargoyle statue, was returned by Nanaimo RCMP after being found by city crew

Revelstoke woman finds welcoming letter on her Alberta-registered truck

There have been multiple reports online of vandalism to vehicles with Alberta licence plates

Spirit bear possibly spotted in West Kootenay

A local resident spotted the white-coloured bear while on an evening trail run near Castlegar on May 27

B.C. businesses ‘can’t shoulder burden’ of COVID-19 sick pay

Trudeau’s plan should be tied to federal emergency aid

B.C. teacher reprimanded for sharing homophobic and sexist memes, making racist comments

Klaus Hardy Breslauer was accused of making a laundry list of concerning decisions as a science teacher

Most Read