Roundabout raps return on Richmond Road

A proposal for a roundabout on a busy Saanich intersection has resurfaced eight years after the idea was initially shot down.

Saanich engineers want to change the flow of traffic at Cedar Hill Cross and Richmond Road, where five different streets converge.

On April 12, council first learned of staff’s renewed plans for the intersection – where St. Aidans Street, Poplar Avenue and Palo Alto Street also meet. The project was listed as a priority for Federal Gas Tax fund allocation.

Colin Doyle, director of engineering, said a roundabout isn’t necessarily what will be decided on for that area, but staff needed to put forward a hasty application in order to meet tight deadlines.

“The community component of this is really important to us,” he said. “I think (gas tax money) would have to be used on something specific for that intersection. But there’s a number of ways we can deal with that … not just a roundabout.”

That option, however, is the one preferred by staff. “The one that’s going to achieve the most in terms of traffic flow and (greenhouse gas) objectives would be a roundabout – that’s why that’s in the application,” Doyle said, adding that a lighted intersection is another option.

Coun. Vicki Sanders commented that, during initial discussions in 2003, community associations in the area weren’t keen on a roundabout for that intersection.

“They was a very poor lack of communication and the community didn’t support the idea then,” said Sanders, who vocally opposed the proposal while she was still president of the Quadra-Cedar Hill Community Association.

“The community associations all came together and opposed it because of the sheer volumes of traffic that comes through there. There was no consideration of how they’re going to deal with those problems.”

The current proposal isn’t set in stone, says Doyle, adding changes were made to the 2003 design.

“I think there’s a much broader public acceptance to roundabouts now … We had the misfortune of being one of the first in the region to talk about and consider a modern roundabout, and I don’t think the community was ready for it,” Doyle said.

The discussion with the community will take place as part of the Shelbourne Corridor Action Plan talks.

“We’ve been pretty much in constant communication with (Saanich) since about 2004. That discussion’s always been there and ongoing,” said Mount Tolmie Community Association vice-president Matthew Taylor. “We’ve had some recent discussions … but I guess a roundabout is a possibility again.”

Council ultimately endorsed putting forward an application for funding from regional gas tax allocation.

kslavin@saanichnews.com