A Saanich community association wants the provincial government to build a wall to screen out traffic noise.
Mac Nanton, a director with the Falaise Community Association, said traffic along Highway 17 has diminished quality of life and property values in the neighbourhood home to some 175 families. On the map, Saanich’s smallest community association represents an area that resembles an ‘L’ tucked inside the Broadmead Area Residents Association (BARA).
Its western border runs on the northbound side of the highway, while Royal Oak Drive marks its southern border. In the north, it ends just before Elk / Beaver Lake.
Plans call for the wall to run for about 800 metres along the eastern side of the highway, north of where it intersects Royal Oak Drive.
While the highway offers great access to the airport, ferries and downtown, the “very significant increase” in traffic noise is affecting the community, said Nanton, in calling for the wall.
Nanton said the community established itself in 1957 when the highway just had two lanes and well before the provincial government constructed the Royal Oak Interchange.
The highway now features four lanes and traffic volumes at the intersection with Royal Oak have more than doubled since the construction of the Royal Oak Interchange in 1970, increasing from 27,000 vehicles per day then to 58,000 per day in 2016.
When the province built the highway, it lacked a noise policy for new and upgraded highways. Such a policy did not come into effect until 1993, so decades after the establishment of the community and the expansion of the highway, said Stuart Macpherson, another director with the community association.
Members had first raised the issue with local MLA Lana Popham, when she was the guest speaker during the association’s annual meeting in November, said Bob Lucy, a community association director. According to Lucy, Popham has already had some preliminary discussions with the Ministry of Transportation and Infrastructure, which she plans to pick up after the end of the current legislative sessions. Plans also call for a neighbourhood meeting.
While it is far too early to make any definitive statements about any future wall, Lucy suggests the wall would reach anywhere between three to five metres in height with an estimated cost of anywhere between $1 and $1.5 million.
So who should pay for the wall? The community association has some good news for Mexico, because Lucy suggested it should be the provincial government.