A couple dozen people stand outside Saanich municipal hall calling for a ‘safer Saanich’ after 16-year-old Kaydence Bourque was killed crossing the street Monday.
“We’ve been designing our infrastructure wrong for years!”
Those who gathered also walk and cycle in Saanich and say safe road infrastructure in the municipality is very much missing.
“The border change between Victoria and Saanich is something that I notice. Typically speed limits go up and sidewalks seem to disappear,” said Philip Marciniak, who organized the event.
The group is highlighting the lack of pedestrian-friendly infrastructure and is pushing council to rethink the way they consider road design.
“Simply lowering speed limit or enforcing is just kind of addressing the symptom,” said Marciniak. “But actually redesigning the streets so people to move around safely would be key.”
There’s been a dramatic shift in North American transportation research for urban centres over the last ten years moving away from the car-centric high-speed model, to walkable communities with nearby amenities and car-slowing road features.
“It isn’t just about safety, it’s really ultimately about the quality of our lives, the community livability overall,” said Todd Litman, executive director of the Victoria Transport Policy Institute. “And it just so happens that the things that improve safety, also improve the quality of our neighbourhoods.”
It’s a shift that, Saanich’s mayor says, has already been made by the municipality.
“Saanich is committed to improving road safety across the municipality and taking action,” said Saanich Mayor Fred Haynes in a statement Thursday.
The municipality is four years into a 30-year active transportation plan. In the past two years, they say they’ve built four kilometres of new sidewalks and built or improved 23 crosswalks.
Moving forward, $58 million dollars will be going into safer streets over the next three years.
But former Saanich councillor and mayoral candidate Dean Murdoch says more immediate action is needed.
“We cannot wait for a 30-year plan, we need to accelerate that plan to ensure everyone can get around safely,” said Murdoch.