After a wholly negative response to the proposed pedestrian refuge islands at Mount Newton Cross and East Saanich Roads, Central Saanich council have invited affected parties to an informational meeting to further discuss the details of the options for the intersection.
At Monday’s Public Works and Transportation Committee meeting, council reviewed several letters from residents and business owners, including Jamie Day, representing the owner of the Prairie Inn, and Jim Townley, president of the Saanichton Village Association.
In his correspondence, Townley specifically pointed to the loss of turning lanes and increased traffic delays as major concerns, as well as a negative impact on local businesses should drivers opt for alternate, less-congested routes through the area.
Townley urged council to “make a commitment to a proper traffic light in two to three years’ time, and budget this into the infrastructure plan using a forward thinking approach, rather than implementing a quick change that may or may not show benefit.”
Despite the June 1 deadline from ICBC to finalize the agreement for their $13,000 grant, Councillor Bob Thompson suggested council delay making a decision until after the District was able to discuss options with business owners whose property may be affected.
Mayor Windsor made the motion to invite the Saanichton Village Association, affected property owners and the letter writers to an informational meeting where staff could further discuss the details of the proposed refuge islands.
Council agreed unanimously.
Coun. Carl Jensen, who initially voted against seeking further public opinion, was glad for the input.
“I thought doing something was better than nothing, but that’s obviously not the case,” he said. “Maybe we do have blinders on with this ICBC grant dangling in front of us. I think it’s a good opportunity for us to listen.”
“It’s good that everybody has a common understanding of the options,” said David McAllister, director of engineering for Central Saanich.
The proposed pedestrian refuge islands would cost the District approximately $35,000 after ICBC’s grant, and would initially reduce the number of lanes in the intersection from eight to six, with the possibility of a further reduction to four lanes.
Full signalization of the intersection is estimated to cost $250,000.