Saanich Mayor Fred Haynes says staff are constantly monitoring residents’ road safety concerns. (Black Press Media file photo)

Saanich considers closing some streets to vehicle traffic to make room for pedestrians

No new road closures currently planned, mayor says

Saanich Mayor Fred Haynes has asked Emergency Operations Centre staff to consider residents’ requests to close some roads to vehicle traffic during the COVID-19 pandemic.

On April 22, Haynes announced on Twitter that he’d heard from many residents in favour of closing some Saanich streets to vehicle traffic during the pandemic. He added that he’d be bringing the issue up with the District’s Emergency Operations Center (EOC) to find out what the options are.

READ ALSO: COVID-19: Victoria limits parking in James Bay to create space for pedestrians

Saanich residents have said sidewalks are crowded and that since streets are quieter due to reduced traffic volumes, lanes may be better used by pedestrians needing to practice social distancing, Haynes explained.

He added that many have also pointed out that other municipalities have made the decision to close some roads to vehicles – Stanley Park was closed to vehicle traffic on April 8 and the City of Victoria limited on-street parking in James Bay to give pedestrians more room starting April 23 – to make more room for cyclists and pedestrians needing to social distance.

Haynes pointed out that Saanich closed Mount Douglas Park to vehicle traffic over the Easter long weekend. In an effort to ease congestion and make room for the increased number of pedestrians, the gate on Churchill Drive was closed from April 10 to 13 – blocking drivers from taking their cars to the summit. Residents cooperated with the closure and the District was “very pleased” with the results, Haynes said.

READ ALSO: B.C. enacts provincial order to move homeless at Victoria encampments into hotels

Friends of Mount Douglas Park Society President Darrell Wick reached out to council ahead of the long weekend calling for Churchill Drive to be closed to vehicle traffic for the duration of the pandemic. He was pleased to see the park closed to traffic over Easter but wished the closure had continued past April 13.

The Saanich EOC has considered closing some roads to drivers during the pandemic and is continuing to monitor the issue, said Megan Catalano, information officer for the EOC.

“At this time we’re not planning to close any streets,” she explained. “The only closure we have in place is on the Tillicum Bridge where we closed one traffic lane for pedestrian use.”

READ ALSO: Mount Douglas Park closed to vehicle traffic over long weekend

Haynes is asking the EOC staff to take another look at road closures but he emphasized that “just because another city does it, doesn’t mean we [Saanich] have to do it; it just means we should look into it.”

He added that District staff have taken a “data-driven” approach to all decisions and are doing the same with the matter of road closures. It’s a “risk-benefit analysis,” he explained because there could be enforcement issues and closing streets would affect traffic patterns.

Saanich hasn’t seen the same issues that other cities have seen so it’s not a top priority but Haynes emphasized that residents’ concerns are being heard and that “[staff] are looking into this all the time.”


@devonscarlett
Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

devon.bidal@saanichnews.com

CoronavirusDistrict of SaanichTraffic

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Organizer, Victoria councillor, VicPD talk about upcoming rally for Black lives

‘It’s a simple ask’: Peace rally for Black lives organizer asks people to listen

PHOTOS: Dozens show up to rebuild vandalized Victoria people-less protest

Chalk messages of support surround the fountain in Centennial Square

George Floyd mural appears on Victoria street

Victoria artist Paul Archer painted the mural outside his shop on Fort Street

Vancouver Island’s current COVID-19 case count officially hits zero

Of the 130 recorded Island Health cases, five people have died, 125 recovered

MISSING: High-risk woman last seen on May 25

Police are asking for the public’s help in locating Jennifer Daughinee-Mendelson

‘I’m pissed, I’m outraged’: Federal minister calls out police violence against Indigenous people

Indigenous Minister Marc Miller spoke on recent incidents, including fatal shooting of a B.C. woman

Kelowna Mountie who punched suspect identified, condemned by sister

‘How did he get away with this? How is this justifiable?’

PHOTOS: Anti-racism protesters gather in communities across B.C.

More protests are expected through the weekend

POLL: Are you sending your children back to school this month?

Classrooms looked decidedly different when students headed back to school for the… Continue reading

Pair accused of ‘horrific’ assault at Vancouver’s Oppenheimer Park at large

Police say Jason Tapp, 30, and Nicole Edwards, 33, did not show up to meet their bail supervisor this week

No charges to be laid against 22 northern B.C. pipeline protesters

Twenty-two people were arrested in February, but Crown has decided not to pursue charges

Plan in place for BC Ferries to start increasing service levels

Ferry corporation reaches temporary service level agreement with province

B.C. starts to see employment return under COVID-19 rules

Jobless rate for young people still over 20% in May

Most Read