The bulk of Oak Bay council sees a speed limit pilot project in Saanich as an opportunity for safer streets and a culture shift.
In March, Saanich amended its application to the province for a pilot project to lower the speed limit to 30 km/h instead of its original plan for 40 km/h on roads without centrelines. Victoria later amended its support, opting to apply for a 30 km/h project and Saanich followed suit then sought support from other municipalities in the region. Oak Bay, Esquimalt and Sidney signalled support last week.
Oak Bay originally supported the bid for a pilot project reducing side road speeds to 40 km/h. That was in line with council direction dating back to 2016 when Oak Bay embarked on a project to look at just that, creating more a cohesive speed limit scheme in the district. At that time, the district did some work but didn’t move forward when the work showed a blanket speed limit was not manageable as a municipality. At the April 12 meeting, municipal staff suggested council seek more input from staff on impacts of the difference in speed, building from the 2016 studies and analysis and potential budget implication and best practices – before supporting the change.
The 10 km/h difference spurred conversation among council April 12, but in the end they supported the pilot in a 4-2 vote with Coun. Hazel Braithwaite and Mayor Kevin Murdoch opposed.
Both cited the process of public input sought, and staff work put in around the 2016 project that determined a 40 km/h limit recommendation.
Murdoch felt it wasn’t appropriate to go down that road without staff input.
“Obviously everyone wants safer streets… I don’t believe just saying 30 is better is the way to shift behaviour,” Murdoch added.
Coun. Tara Ney noted 2016 was a different time and people are “increasingly more frustrated” with speeds in the community, echoing a sentiment from Coun. Cairine Green.
“What we want to establish is a culture in Oak Bay that would support a 30 km/h speed limit,” Green said, noting she has consistently heard complaints of speeding from residents.
With support from neighbouring communities in hand, Saanich plans to apply for the next round of pilot projects with the Ministry of Transportation and Infrastructure.
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