When a woman was struck and killed on Mt. Newton Cross Road in Central Saanich last February, the incident raised a long-standing debate within that community: to either leave rural roads as-is, or modernize them and make them brighter, safer for pedestrians.
The issue has been long debated in places like Central Saanich or in North Saanich, where they take pride in being able to keep taxes low. In the latter municipality, those taxes stay low by not adding too much in the way of new street infrastructure.
In some degree, that is also the case for the rural roads in Central Saanich. Many of them have remained that way for years, despite the call by some residents to upgrade intersections, add lights or other safety measures.
The incident last winter was a reminder to many people of what can happen on these roads. And while the terrible incident itself was not a matter of a vehicle striking and killing a pedestrian, a brighter route might have prevented the matter from escalating the way it did.
Still, out of that incident came dedicated people like Megan Ereiser. She and other volunteers stepped up to not only lobby for lights and benches along Mt. Newton Cross Road — but took action on their own to try and make things better.
They started a reflective vest program. They set out bins of reflective vests, hoping people who walk the road would take one and wear it, making themselves more visible to drivers. By all accounts, it worked. The vests were well-used. Never mind that none were returned and now the program finds itself at an end.
While the vests are gone, they are slowly being replaced by benches and by new street lighting. Bit by bit, those efforts and that from the District of Central Saanich, are making walking in that community a lot safer.