Vern Michell is among those concerned about the potential loss of lights at the Island View Road intersection with Highway 17. Michell Farm Retail Store will be the site of a meeting Wednesday

Vern Michell is among those concerned about the potential loss of lights at the Island View Road intersection with Highway 17. Michell Farm Retail Store will be the site of a meeting Wednesday

Residents fear being ‘marooned’ at Island View

Highway access critical for emergency services, business livelihood, says resident

Residents are gathering steam to oppose a proposed change to the intersection of Island View Road and Highway 17.

For some, like the Michell family that runs its farming business on land surrounding Highway 17, a News Review article was the first they heard of the possibility of Island View intersection losing its lights.

“It was like a nightmare,” said Vern Michell.

The concern stemmed from a report to Central Saanich council over three considerations the Ministry of Transportation is considering for alterations to the highway to provide access to a proposed development at Jus Kun Road and Highway 17, called Jesken Town Centre. One option proposed would include removing the lights at Island View Road. Island View would still have a right-in access for southbound traffic and a half signal would be installed at East Saanich Road and the highway for southbound traffic.

“There’s farmers out here whose livelihood … they all rely on traffic being able to move efficiently and effectively,” said John Stevenson, a resident of Island View beach.

“For residents we’ll be kind of isolated. There’s no bus service on the east side of the highway,” he added. “We’d be kind of marooned.”

As well, there are wind surfers, cyclers, boaters, walkers and wildlife watchers who use the Lochside Trail and Island View Regional Park. In 2011 there were 325,000 visits to the regional park, Stevenson said.

“Apparently the Lochside regional trail had over a million folks,” he added.

They’re hearing from people, from Victoria to Sidney, concerned about access to businesses and Island View Regional Park.

“It affects a lot of people. We have a petition here that has over 1,000 names,” Michell said. They plan to turn the petition over to the District of Central Saanich, in hopes that council there can use it “as a backing” to fight against losing the light at Island View.

Residents are also concerned over emergency access to Island View and the Martindale Valley.

“That would be very crucial if a house was on fire on Island View Road or the Martindale Valley,” said Michell, who also lives nearby. “If you want an ambulance, you don’t want a 10 minute delay.”

Stevenson sent letters outlining the concerns to Transportation Minister Blair Lekstrom, the District of Central Saanich, Saanich North and the Islands MLA Murray Coell, the Capital Regional District and Tsawout First Nation. They’ve also organized a meeting for tonight, March 21.

“We’re concerned as residents, we’re more concerned for our friends and neighbours who are in business out here. This would hurt them,” Stevenson said. “This option would see the road barricaded. My only option would be to turn right.… There’s no mention of how they would get us back to our residences in an efficient way.”

The Michell Farm Retail Store will be the venue of a meeting tonight at 7 p.m. for those concerned about changes at Island View Road and Highway 17.

Central Saanich council members aren’t thrilled with the proposal to remove the lights from Island View Road, either.

When he saw the option in early February, Coun. John Garrison said, “There really is no benefit to Central Saanich by approving these options. … There doesn’t seem to be a quid pro quo.”


Lack of taxes a concern, too

While neither Vern Michell nor John Stevenson is voicing opposition to the planned development on nearby Tsawout land, it does reflect on the proposed option of altering the Island View Road intersection.

“There will be [no taxes] flowing to Central Saanich because it’s on First Nations land,” Stevenson pointed out. “Any of the secondary infrastructure, in terms of beyond Highway 17, any secondary roads that are required or necessitated by this, those costs will be borne by the district.”