North Saanich may have moved closer to formally joining a regional pilot project reducing speed limits on certain streets, but questions about its effectiveness remain.
Council Monday asked staff to prepare a resolution to participate in the pilot project spearheaded by Saanich. It is preparing an application asking the province to approve a project to lower the default speed limit on streets without a continuous yellow centreline to 40 km/h for up to three years.
Council last year had voted against joining the project. But Mayor Geoff Orr said Monday council did not have all of the facts, pointing to new figures from staff about the local road network as well as information from Saanich, whose Mayor Fred Haynes has been spearheading the initiative.
North Saanich now finds itself heading in the same direction as neighbouring Sidney and Central Saanich, which are among the 10 Greater Victoria municipalities that had already signed, according to Haynes.
Monday’s vote marks a reversal from the first vote as four members of council switched their votes in joining Coun. Patricia Pearson, the only affirmative vote in the fall.
Pearson said traffic safety ranks among the top issues of residents in echoing comments from Coun. Heather Gartshore, who said reducing speeds adds to livability. Gartshore also said North Saanich’s participation ensures all of the Saanich Peninsula will provide data.
Coun. Jack McClintock acknowledged these aspects, but questioned the project’s motives. Neither the public nor police have been pushing this initiative, he said. “I see this as being strictly political.”
Coun. Celia Stock, who also voted against the measure, raised the question of enforcement, a point also appearing in the municipality’s own assessment.
According to a report, staff found the Sidney/North Saanich RCMP detachment “generally in favour” of the project. But police, according to the report, do not apply “limited” traffic enforcement resources to roads which the project would affect, because they have not had any issues with speed or collisions. “Increased enforcement on these roads is not envisioned during the pilot project,” it reads.
Roads subject to the project run across the municipality in neighbourhoods such as Ardmore, Deep Cove, Cloak Hill/Lands End, Curteis Point, and Central/Sandown, according to a report from Orr.
It finds 58 per cent of North Saanich’s road network of 136 kilometres are local roads without centrelines and 38 per cent (30 km) of local roads without centrelines have a speed limit set at 50 km/h, with the rest set at 40 km/h or 30 km/h.
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