North Saanich council will consider plans for a study of traffic near KELSET Elementary School. (Black Press Media File).

North Saanich staff calls for traffic study near KELSET Elementary School

Proposed study comes after call from school district for improvements

A study of traffic near a North Saanich elementary appears on its way.

Staff are recommending council approve $25,000 for a study of vehicular and pedestrian traffic on Forest Park Drive near KELSET Elementary School.

The report recommending the traffic study responds to a letter from School District No. 63 calling on the municipality to review traffic safety on Forest Park Drive and consider the implementation of traffic calming and safety improvements.

Concerns heard from residents include among others “parking challenges” during school pick-up and drop-off times. “Parking spills over to the adjoining neighbourhoods or to the Panorama parking lots during these times,” it reads.

The report also raises related concerns about pedestrian safety in pointing to the school’s entrance loop on Forest Park Drive, the only vehicular entrance. It offers limited parking for non-staff, while serving buses that loading and unloading students.

“Private vehicles will use it as a turnaround to head eastbound on Forest Park Drive to return to East Saanich Road,” it reads. “The combination of vehicular and pedestrian use at this intersection without clear signage or controls creates congestion and unsafe activity.”

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Concerns about traffic safety date back, even precede the school’s opening of 2008 near Panorama Recreation Centre.

Drawing on a traffic study prepared prior to the school’s construction, a sidewalk as well as parallel parking spots for 30 vehicles appeared on the north side of Forest Park Drive. Pedestrian crossings, complete with push-button warning flashers, also appeared at Pender Park Drive and mid-block near the west limit of the Panorama Recreation Centre. The speed limit also dropped to 30 km/h along the frontage.

According to the staff report, these measures tried to slow traffic down and direct “pedestrian activity” away from the school’s entrance at the intersection of Forest Park Drive and Haro Park Terrace, the location expected to have the most potential conflicts.

“In practice, it has been observed that many pedestrian crossings happen at this unsignalized and uncontrolled intersection,” it reads. “Pedestrians crossing here are residents of Dean Park walking to school and those who find parking on Haro Park Terrace if other options closer to the school are full. This crossing provides the most direct access to the school’s main entrance.”

Speed also remains a concern. Recent findings show vehicles still exceed the posted limit of 30km/h by what the staff report calls a “significant amount” with a one study showing an average speed of 42 km/h. The report also tries to positive spin on this finding by noting that speeds observed in the present are lower than prior to the school’s construction and the traffic calming measures that had existed at the time.


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