There’s a little bit of the movie Field of Dreams in rookie Central Saanich councillor Niall Paltiel’s call for planning work into an overpass on the Pat Bay Highway onto Keating X Road.
His assertion that such a structure, while helping alleviate traffic snarls from the highway onto the Central Saanich road, would help increase economic and agricultural opportunities smacks of a “build it and they will come” outlook.
There are serious questions about whether that kind of planning directive has that desired outcome at all. Especially if it’s going to cost a lot of money.
Of course, the Peninsula has examples where that thinking has worked — the Butchart Gardens, Shaw Ocean Discovery Centre, Mary Winspear Centre — they spring to mind and have a draw from around the region.
But would the same apply to an overpass?
Judging by the complaints drivers have with the McTavish overpass (and, yes, the roundabouts within), such a thing might backfire.
While making it easier for commercial traffic to get into the Keating industrial area will help to some extent, those vehicles are getting into the area now. Albeit at a slower pace, thanks to traffic. It still may be a leap to think that an overpass might increase the population, add new businesses to the area and allow farms andother services to reap the benefits of added customers.
The idea of an overpass at this location has been on the books for at least eight years. So, in that regard making a move to speed things along could be seen as a decent political move.
Yet, new overpass projects — whether it be for a proposed Central Saanich commercial area or a pedestrian version in Sidney — take their time in coming. Paltiel should be prepared for the long haul on this idea.