Oak Bay and Esquimalt will join Saanich in a joint application for a pilot project to reduce residential road speeds to 30 km/h, rather than 40 km/h, through a provincial pilot project.
Last year, the District of Saanich and several other Greater Victoria municipalities agreed to take part in the province’s Motor Vehicle Act Pilot Program that would reduce the default speed on residential roads from 50 km/h to 40 km/h. This January, in a departure from the other municipalities’ direction, the City of Victoria opted to move to 30 km/h on streets with no centreline.
In late March, Saanich council unanimously agreed to amend the district’s application for the pilot project in order to join Victoria in reducing the default speed on residential roads to 30 km/h. At the time, Mayor Fred Haynes wrote to the other municipalities that have expressed interest in joining the pilot project, asking them to join Saanich in reducing to 30 km/h.
On April 12, Oak Bay council voted 4-2 in favour of responding that the district will continue to support the pilot project with an option to reduce residential road speeds to 30 km/h. Coun. Hazel Braithwaite and Mayor Kevin Murdoch were opposed.
In joining Saanich and Victoria, “I think there is potential to be part of a greater pilot project that will give us results,” said Coun. Esther Paterson.
Murdoch did not support the motion, noting that “setting speed limits doesn’t change behaviour” and that further consultation was needed before supporting a move to 30 km/h.
Coun. Cairine Green felt differently, pointing out that school zones speeds are already well-respected for the most part. She added that establishing a community culture around 30 km/h speed limits would cost far less than installing speed bumps and traffic lights.
Esquimalt council also voted in favour of the change to 30 km/h in the pilot project application. Members were unanimous.
Haynes was “very pleased” to see neighbouring municipalities take Saanich up on the invitation to join in on the pilot project at the reduced speed. Sidney and View Royal councils also voted to support moving to 30 km/h. View Royal had initially declined to join the pilot project at 40 km/h but reconsidered and agreed to 30 km/h.
Saanich has also written to ask Victoria council if they would like to take part in the joint pilot project application as well. If the province approves the municipalities’ pilot project application, the default road speed would be reduced to 30 km/h only on residential roads for the duration of the pilot.