North Saanich to ask province to clean up interchange

District cites public concerns over unsightly area at McTavish Road roundabouts.

The province says landscape maintenance at the McTavish Road interchange is occurring this week.

Spring has sprung and the grass has riz — and North Saanich wonders where the province is.

Citing resident concerns about the condition of the landscaping at the McTavish Road interchange, District councillors Heather Gartshore and Geoff Orr want the municipality to meet with the B.C. transportation minister and Victoria Airport Authority. Their plan is to seek a solution among the parties to benefit the most that would upgrade the condition of the flora at the roundabouts.

The rest of council, however, want to make it clear they feel the ministry is solely responsible for its upkeep and suggested adding wording to reflect that in the proposal.

On Thursday morning, staff with Mainroad South Island were seen cutting grass at the interchange. A Ministry of Transportation and Infrastructure spokesperson emailed the News Review Wendnesday stating their contractor is responsible for maintaining the vegetation.

“This current landscaping work is part of ongoing regular duties performed by (Mainroad),” wrote Sonia Lowe, public affairs officer, “and the Ministry has every confidence that this work will be completed in a timely manner.”

The email indicated Mainroad has been weeding and mowing at the interchange since mid-March, with work continuing this week. The Ministry said once this round of spring maintenance is done, “the aesthetics of the interchange will be improved.”

Mayor Alice Finall said the the province tried to download the landscaping work to the District after the interchange was completed years ago.

“We didn’t accept that,” she said.

District Chief Administrative Officer Rob Buchan added staff noted at the time the interchange was completed that the area had no irrigation system.

“The District declined the Ministry’s offer to take over the grounds,” he said. “We did so feeling that just this would happen.”

“I think that if the District indicates it’s prepared to take on some responsibility, that will be seized upon and pursued,” Finall added. “So we should stick with asking the province to do it.”

Coun. Celia Stock added she doesn’t want to see North Saanich stuck with the responsibility and feels language in the motion should reflect that.

Gartshore said their proposal is only meant to open doors and consider options between all parties, not necessarily force the municipality into taking over the work. Any ideas to come from such a meeting would go to council for its approval.

She and Orr eventually agreed to change the wording of their proposal to indicate the District wants the province to continue to maintain the area. It was approved unanimously on Monday, April 20, as was a secondary motion that the District approach the Transportation Minister, Todd Stone, on the matter at the upcoming Union of B.C. Municipalities conference September 21 to 25 in Vancouver.