Crashes resulting in closures on the Malahat have become a regular occurrence and have generated calls for an alternate route. (Black Press file photo)

CRD commission votes against alternate Malahat route through watershed

Commission voted unanimously after several speakers at meeting

The Capital Regional District Water Supply Commission unanimously voted to oppose an alternative Malahat route that would go through the Greater Victoria Water Supply Area.

On Wednesday evening, Victoria Coun. Jeremy Loveday, alongside other colleagues from across the region, submitted a motion to the commission to oppose highway infrastructure development through the watershed. Several residents and conservation advocates also spoke against the alternate highway route.

“We had many delegations… who spoke against a highway going through the watershed and they made a very compelling case,” Loveday said.

READ MORE: Watershed concerns prompt opposition to alternate Malahat routes

Loveday said there were about 15 speakers and the room was full of supporters as well.

“I think it’s the right move and frankly the only move that the water commission can make as we only have one job and that’s to protect the water supply,” Loveday said.

In January, the province announced it will look into improving traffic flow on southern Vancouver Island with a new transportation strategy that will explore an emergency detour route over the Malahat between the West Shore communities and Duncan.

The province said the area of focus will be existing and future multi-modal infrastructure projects as far north as Duncan and as far west as Sooke.

The Sooke Water Supply Area is located northwest of Victoria in the Sooke Hills and supplies water to more than 35,000 people in Greater Victoria. It is owned by the CRD and has been in active use for more than 100 years.

After Wednesday’s motion passed, Loveday said he heard from many residents who were in favour of the decision the commission made.

READ MORE: Victoria mixed on potential locations of Malahat emergency route

The motion recommended that the Regional Water Supply Commission go on the record in opposition of a highway going through the watershed and that the CRD Board assume the same position.

It also requests that the CRD chair write on behalf of the board to the premier — copying environment and transportation ministers and Vancouver Island MLAs — to advise the province that “the CRD has no interest in pursuing highway infrastructure development in the Greater Victoria Water Supply Area or the Drinking Water Protection Zone.”

The motion is to be discussed by the CRD board on March 13.

Loveday said if the province decides to build a highway in the water supply area, he thinks they’ll be met with resistance.

“To be honest I think they’re in for a big fight seeing the residents that were out yesterday and the many residents who have called and e-mailed,” Loveday said.

shalu.mehta@goldstreamgazette.com


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