Petitioner seeks ‘effective solutions’ to traffic gridlock in Sooke

Petitioner seeks 'effective solutions' to traffic gridlock in Sooke
Traffic in Sooke is pictured on May 31, 2024.

A petitioner is seeking signatures in hopes of bringing more attention to what she’s calling an “urgent issue” of traffic gridlock in the Sooke area.

Highway 14, or Sooke Road, is the only route into and out of the Vancouver Island community, where petitioner Susan J. says the traffic congestion is “negatively affecting” residents, local businesses and those passing through.

The petition was launched on June 8. As of Wednesday morning, it had more than 700 signatures, and several signees shared their reasons for backing it.

Despite the Highway 14 Corridor Improvement Plan resulting in widened and enhanced sections of road, Susan says drivers are still facing “extended travel times,” which “negatively impacts their overall quality of life.”


She says the congestion has increased vehicle maintenance and fuel costs, among other expenses, like missed appointment fees.

“The stress from long commutes has decreased productivity and increased absenteeism, risking job security and income stability,” Susan wrote.

Local officials are also buckled into commuters’ concerns.

Speaking with CHEK News on May 31, District of Sooke Coun. Al Beddoes described the traffic around the community as “insane,” adding, “Between 3 and 6 p.m., the highway is at 100 per cent capacity.”

An infrastructure project on Charters Road isn’t expected to wrap up until October and could exacerbate these woes, according to Beddoes.

Construction comes as more people flock to Sooke during the warmer months to soak up the sun, relax on beaches or explore local trails.

“People want to come here. They love it here,” Beddoes said last month.

‘Life and death’

However, Susan claims tourists are often “deterred by traffic congestion, resulting in lost revenue for tourism operators, retail, restaurants, and hotels.”

She says this has led to “economic losses and frustrated clients for local businesses. Lower sales, and delivery delays increase costs. Customer frustration has caused lost repeat business and negative reviews, damaging reputations.”

In the long run, she says the months long gridlock could “impact the broader local economy, reducing tax contributions and affecting public services.”

It could also be a matter of “life and death,” said Susan.

“Traffic congestion reduces response times for fire, ambulance, and police services, which can mean the difference between life and death,” she said. “In an emergency, the current congestion will cause chaos, making evacuations difficult and leaving residents in high-risk areas longer.”

Susan also says vehicle idling “increases pollution, impacting residents’ health and that of the environment,” including wildlife. 

Carpooling: an interim solution?

Carpooling is one way to reduce your carbon footprint and help mitigate traffic, officials say.

The B.C. government says carpooling is an option for people regardless of whether they own or drive a vehicle, so it encourages those who travel the same route as a neighbour or co-worker to consider ride-sharing.

“Travelling together in a single vehicle can save you both money, and is also better for the environment,” the B.C. government says.

BC Transit is also on board, saying carpooling reduces wear and tear on personal vehicles and lowers commuters’ stress, among other benefits, like “reduced traffic congestion.”

Last month, the province told CHEK News it was aware of the concerns of Sooke residents and of the importance of a clear and safe commute.

“We are currently identifying sections of Highway 14 between Sooke and Port Renfrew for road improvements this summer, including repairs, realignment, intersection improvements and additional upgrades to improve safety,” it said.

Susan says while these improvements are “essential,” they’re not “sufficient.” According to census results, more people are moving to Sooke.

“The ongoing congestion illustrates the urgent and immediate need for comprehensive infrastructure development that matches the pace of both mandated and organic population growth,” Susan wrote.

“The current pace of improvements is not acceptable. All hands must be on deck to solve the current transportation corridor crisis and expand existing plans. We need to speed up additional near, mid, and future plans to reduce community vulnerability on all levels.”

She hopes people will sign the petition, which is addressed to the B.C. government and the Ministry of Transportation and Infrastructure. By doing so, she says signees will join others in “demanding immediate and effective solutions.”

The petition is online here.

Ethan MorneauEthan Morneau

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