‘I don’t feel safe’: Parents concerned about increased traffic near Keating Elementary


The back-to-school anxiety is heightened this year for parents in Central Saanich as morning commutes have turned to traffic chaos near Keating Elementary School.

The southbound on-ramp from Keating Cross Road to Highway 17 is closed for the construction of the Highway 17 Keating Crossroad Overpass project.

RELATED STORY: Province warns of back-to-school traffic delays due to Pat Bay highway overpass construction

This has diverted traffic from morning commuters to semi trucks to Central Saanich Road, driving right in front of Keating Elementary.

Local parents are concerned by the increased traffic, especially at drop-off and pick-up times.

“Right now the way things are, I don’t feel safe,” Helen Tsougrianis told CHEK News while dropping off her son.

Cheryl Chase said she doesn’t think it’s safe at all.

“There are a lot of kids that walk themselves to school, and it’s too much. Too many big trucks,” Chase explained.

The District of Central Saanich anticipated some of these concerns, as some had been raised when the diversion was announced at the end of May.

READ MORE: ‘It’s not the safest street’: Central Saanich residents concerned over traffic flow diversion

Ryan Windsor, Central Saanich mayor, said the increased congestion Tuesday morning could be part of an adjustment period for everyone.

“We have had 10 weeks or so off, people are a little bit out of the routine,” Windsor said. “It is the first day so people are adjusting to traffic patterns, and of course, with all the construction that has been ongoing, people need to reacquaint themselves with that.”

He added the district has done some work to alleviate some of the initial safety concerns by adding another crosswalk on Tanner Road.

The municipality is also working closely with Central Saanich police to monitor the area.

Officers will be set up near the school for the next few weeks to ensure drivers are slowing down, and the province has temporarily added some extra crossing guards in the area.

Tsougrianis said more needs to be done to ensure a safe commute to school.

“I think there are a few things the district could have done ahead of time, like maybe doing sidewalks along Central Saanich Rd. or fixing the timing on the lights [at Central Saanich Rd. and Keating Cross Rd.] because it is quite busy and there are no sensors,” she said.

Windsor said the district is considering sidewalks along the road and the timing of the lights is something that could be looked at.

“I would be surprised if our engineers and ministry staff haven’t already done so, but certainly as we get back to school and patterns emerge, we can adjust if those adjustments would help,” he said.

School District 63 said it is also communicating with the municipality and the province to keep student safety the top priority.

Superintendent Dave Everwein said Saanich Schools have extra personnel on site to help direct cars and keep traffic moving safely around the school.

Parents are encouraged to send their concerns to the district and ministry to be considered.

Those driving in the area are asked to give themselves extra time to drive through the area and to follow all school and construction zone rules.

RELATED STORY: ‘We just really want people to slow down’: Back to school reminder for drivers

Mackenzie ReadMackenzie Read

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