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Islanders most reluctant to lower residential speed limits, BC survey finds

Meanwhile, progress stalls on regional speed limit pilot projects

Latest News
News
Based on facts either observed and verified firsthand by the reporter, or reported and verified from knowledgeable sources.

Islanders most reluctant to lower residential speed limits, BC survey finds

Meanwhile, progress stalls on regional speed limit pilot projects

Photo: James MacDonald / Capital Daily
Photo: James MacDonald / Capital Daily
Latest News
News
Based on facts either observed and verified firsthand by the reporter, or reported and verified from knowledgeable sources.

Islanders most reluctant to lower residential speed limits, BC survey finds

Meanwhile, progress stalls on regional speed limit pilot projects

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Islanders most reluctant to lower residential speed limits, BC survey finds
Photo: James MacDonald / Capital Daily

Fifty-eight percent of Islanders polled in a recent province-wide survey say they’d be in favour of lowering speed limits on residential streets to 30km/h.

However, that figure ranked lower than every other region in BC, according to the online Research Co. poll. Southern Interior BC ranked the most in favour, at 72% support. Metro Vancouver and Northern BC were both at 67%, with the Fraser Valley at 63%.

Altogether, two-thirds of BC residents polled said they would “definitely” or “probably” like to see a drop to 30km/h limits on neighbourhood streets in their community, while keeping arterial roads at 50km/h.

Support was generally higher among women than men, among younger people than older people, and among BC NDP voters than Liberal or Green voters. The Island actually had more “definitely” supporters than Metro Van, but noticeably fewer “probably” supporters.

The Island also had the highest rate by far (28%) of respondents saying they never see vehicles on their street going above the 50km/h current standard limit; by contrast, only 12% of Metro Van residents said so.

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Stalled progress on pilot speed limits in Capital Region

The poll results come nearly two years after six South Island communities joined a pilot project bid to lower speed limits to 30km/h on residential roads across Greater Victoria. Victoria’s council was the first to greenlight a pilot. Saanich, Esquimalt, Oak Bay, View Royal, and Sidney followed suit.

Coun. Ned Taylor was among those who proposed the change in Saanich, along with Couns. Rebecca Mersereau and Zac DeVries. Taylor pointed to findings from the World Health Organization that showed pedestrians’ odds of survival when hit by a car significantly improved when the speed limit was lowered to 30km/h. The WHO’s report noted that every 1km/h speed increase led to a 4-5% bump in deadly crashes. 

“For me, if we were to be reducing speed limits for the purpose of improving safety, I think that we should be reducing speed limits to a level that's actually going to have a significant impact,” Taylor told Capital Daily then.

In the months since that initial bid, however, pilot progress has ground to a halt. The municipalities have said they’re waiting for approval from the Ministry of Transportation and Infrastructure. But there’s no apparent approval date on the horizon.

The ministry contested that in a statement to CHEK, noting municipalities can alter speed limits without the province’s approval.

“Municipalities already have authority under the [Motor Vehicle] Act to alter speed limits on their local roads,” the statement read, pointing to pilot projects already underway in Vancouver and Surrey.

But councillors have been wary of a patchwork approach if speed limits aren’t changed unilaterally, given that many roads would cross municipal borders and potentially cause hiccups.

“There are a lot of places in the city where you can go across three municipalities in the space of two or three blocks,” Victoria Coun. Geoff Young told councillors in Jan. 2021.

Amid inaction, continued calls for change

For pedestrians and road-users who have advocated for lower residential speed limits for years, the lack of progress has proven frustrating—and, at times, fatal. The issue reached a boiling point in December when Kaydence Bourque, 16, was hit and killed by a vehicle while crossing the street at a marked crosswalk on Cedar Hill Cross Road. 

About 100 people rallied outside of Saanich Municipal Hall days later, calling for action.

“It’s devastating,” activist Philip Marciniak, who organized the rally, told us in December.

“[Saanich council has] got some plans, but the implementation has been lacking, in my opinion… If you're a pedestrian and you're walking down Quadra Street, you're having cars missing your head by a foot or two, and they're going 60km/h, maybe even faster.”

Coun. DeVries acknowledged that despite council’s efforts, “we know we’re not doing enough.”

“This is a more systemic, bigger-picture issue… this is something we need to look at across Saanich—not just in one area. We need to look at this everywhere.”

Saanich council has since sent a letter to its fellow Greater Victoria municipalities that instead of waiting for the province, it’s moving ahead with its own plans for road safety.

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