North Saanich council signalled its support for the municipality’s active transportation plan, but not before cutting out plans to calm traffic on Tatlow Road.
Council, meeting as committee of the whole, voted unanimously to endorse the proposed transportation plan and direct staff to make seven revisions (with sub-revisions) to the plan.
Changes include cancelling a traffic calming trial for Tatlow Road. Staff had previously identified the road for traffic calming because it provides access to Horth Hill Regional Park, “but often finds itself carrying short-cutting traffic from West Saanich Road to Wain Road that could otherwise stay on both of those roads.”
The draft of the active transportation plan before council proposed the use of advisory bike lanes and speed humps to discourage short-cutting traffic, reducing speeds and creating space for active modes. According to staff, traffic calming would have provided a more comfortable and safe environment for pedestrians, cyclists and equestrians. This said, the wording of the approved motion still speaks of considering traffic calming.
While staff had ranked the project fifth among 28 possible projects, it generated the second-highest level of public opposition with 25 per cent of respondents opposed. One key source of opposition was the idea of turning Tatlow Road into a single-lane, two-way road for vehicle traffic, with one writer, Sue Ferguson, describing the idea as “craziness.”
Other critics questioned the premise that Tatlow Road was used as a short cut in questioning the municipality’s desire to see traffic on Wain Road and West Saanich Road.
“While a handful of recreational cyclists occasionally transit Tatlow Road, countless more vehicles use this road on a regular basis,” said Alexander Marr. “This proposal shows a callous disregard for the safety and users of the road and for the children who attend Deep Cove Elementary School. A significant portion of the traffic diverted in an ill-conceived attempt to ‘reduce shortcutting’ can reasonably be expected to increase the traffic flow past the school.”
Several critics also accused the municipality of catering to what Brian Chapel called “packs of lawless racing-training road warriors from the core municipalities.”
The plan also saw considerable support with several writers praising the proposed upgrades.
“The plan is well thought and the community surveys were user friendly and offered ample opportunity for public engagement,” said Josh Brand.
The plan provides what staff call “high level guidance” to inform future capital planning for active transportation projects in North Saanich and appears against the backdrop of growing concerns about the municipality’s infrastructure for cycling and other forms of active transportation.
Current estimates peg the implementation cost of the plan at $20 million over 20 years with staff tasked to provide more refined cost estimates.