The default speed limit for city streets in British Columbia is 50 kilometres an hour, but one Greater Victoria suburb may be on the precipice of changing that.
On Monday night, Saanich council is voting on whether or not to lower the speed limits on nine of their corridors.
“What we’re being asked to consider is a speed limit reduction on nine major corridors in Saanich,” said Saanich Mayor Dean Murdock.
Saanich staff are suggesting Tillicum Road, Gorge Road and the entire seaside route from Cordova Bay Road to Cadboro Bay Road all be reduced to 40 kilometres an hour.
“It would effectively make that entire corridor the same speed instead of hanging the speed as people move,” said Murdock.
A 40 km/h limit is also being considered for Cedar Hill Cross Road, where 16-year-old Kaydence Bourque was killed in December 2021 while crossing at a marked crosswalk.
Staff are also recommending dropping the speed limit on the summit road of PKOLS/Mount Douglas Park to 25 km/h.
“After cities do reduce their traffic speeds on those kinds of streets, crash rates plummet,” said Todd Litman, CEO of Victoria Transport Policy Institute.
Litman believes speed limits are one piece of a bigger puzzle that’s a bit more complicated in a district that’s part rural, part urban — with a serious shortage of sidewalks.
“Much of Saanich was built after the 1950s so Saanich is going to have to do a bit more work,” said Litman.
Saanich’s mayor is confident that the council will be supportive of the speed limit changes. The general public, he says, may gripe at the slower commute but slowing down only increases the likelihood that their neighbours will survive a potential car crash.
“The speed reductions that are being recommended here will save lives,” said Murdock.
The staff report Saanich noted that someone hit by a vehicle travelling 56 km/h is five times more likely to die than someone hit by a car travelling 32 km/h.
If approved, the speed limit changes could go into effect this spring.