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Residents concerned about risk to pedestrians on Esquimalt’s Lyall Street

Council, police, and the naval base have all responded to concerns about chronic speeding at an intersection near the local elementary school

By Brishti Basu
September 11, 2022
Latest News
News
Based on facts either observed and verified firsthand by the reporter, or reported and verified from knowledgeable sources.

Residents concerned about risk to pedestrians on Esquimalt’s Lyall Street

Council, police, and the naval base have all responded to concerns about chronic speeding at an intersection near the local elementary school

By Brishti Basu
Sep 11, 2022
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Latest News
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Based on facts either observed and verified firsthand by the reporter, or reported and verified from knowledgeable sources.

Residents concerned about risk to pedestrians on Esquimalt’s Lyall Street

Council, police, and the naval base have all responded to concerns about chronic speeding at an intersection near the local elementary school

By Brishti Basu
September 11, 2022
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Residents concerned about risk to pedestrians on Esquimalt’s Lyall Street

Between October 2021 and July 2022, Brian Cant says he and his family have almost been hit by a vehicle 13 times, all at the same intersection: Lyall at Macaulay. 

The most recent incident was in June, when Cant said his six-year-old daughter Aubrey screamed in fear as a car that looked to be going twice the speed limit narrowly missed them. 

“They barely stopped at the stop sign and then proceeded to try and nudge us across the road as fast as possible,” Cant said, describing the incident to Esquimalt mayor and council on Aug. 22. 

Lyall Street is one of the busiest thoroughfares in Esquimalt, and the intersection with Macaulay Street stands near the busy elementary school attended by Cant’s daughter. The school year has just begun, but Cant told Capital Daily his daughter is already afraid to walk to school. 

The two blocks ahead of that intersection is a playground zone with a speed limit of 30 km/h, while the rest of the Lyall corridor allows drivers to go up to 50 km/h. Instead of stopping at the four-way stop sign, Cant and others, including Mayor Barb Desjardins, have observed, many choose to just roll through. 

Left to right: Brian Cant, Aubrey Kushnir-Cant, Kyle Kushnir. Photo: Submitted

“I don't want to have to drive [my daughter] to school, which would take us 90 seconds,” Cant said. “I would rather her learn to walk and learn to safely cross the street. But we don't feel like it's safe on Lyall.” 

According to ICBC, eight children in Greater Victoria are injured in crashes while walking or cycling each year. 

A Facebook group, created last month by Cant and his husband Kyle Kushnir, has garnered 46 members who share stories and photos of both drivers and cyclists failing to obey the stop sign. Their accounts have since prompted an article in the Times Colonist, and responses from the Victoria Police department and the Canadian Forces base in Esquimalt.

Ten out of the 13 people Cant and his family observed speeding through the stop sign at Lyall and Macaulay were uniformed members of the navy. When he brought this up to CFB Esquimalt, he says they took immediate action. 

An article in the Lookout Newspaper—a weekly publication about the Navy—on Sept. 1 contained a plea from a member of the military police earlier this month. 

“There is no doubt that street is frequently used by military members speeding to and from different parts of the Base; five minutes of observation during a work day reveals that,” Warrant Officer Jeffrey Eves told the Lookout. 

“We are pleading for military members to please consider public safety and follow the rules of the road, both on Lyall Street and elsewhere.”

The police department, according to the Esquimalt division lead, Inspector Michael Brown, at the same council meeting on Aug. 22, has assigned extra officers to enforce speed limits at Lyall and Macaulay and put up social media posts and new stop signs reminding residents of the speed limit. “Anecdotally I'm seeing some really good results initially,” Brown told council.

Cant feels that the issue has been taken seriously by everyone but the township’s mayor and council, whom he has called on to make the Lyall Street corridor a permanent 30 km/h zone.  

Lowering the speed limit to make it consistent along Lyall Street is one of the steps in Esquimalt’s recently approved Active Transportation Plan. Though there’s no timeline yet for when it will be implemented, Mayor Barb Desjardins wants it done “as quickly as we can.” 

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“I, as somebody who has traveled that road every day for the last 15 years, know what [Cant is] speaking of and know of the challenges of that corner and I am absolutely committed to getting the work done,” Desjardins told Capital Daily.

While she understands Cant and others’ frustration at the slow pace, Desjardins says the municipality has to wait for more information before making changes.

One of the main reports they are waiting for is an upcoming CRD transportation plan that will direct the township on the best ways to make it safe for kids to get to Macaulay Elementary School.

“It has a number of recommendations that will help in terms of mitigation of traffic,” Desjardins said. “That report is due this month. I reached out to CRD and they're going to get it to us as soon as possible.”

In late August, Esquimalt council also unanimously approved funding $22,560 for crossing guard services at Macaulay Elementary School. However, the school district has assigned those guards to the two other intersections flanking the school—not Lyall and Macaulay. 

Desjardins says she has reached out to the school district to “see whether we can make some adjustments.” 

At the moment, Cant says there is a lot of focus on the intersection, with various departments issuing reminders to slow down during back-to-school season. 

“A month from now, everyone will have forgotten that,” he said. “What's it going to be like the first Monday after Daylight Savings changes? What's it going to be like in the dark weeks in January?”

Victoria recently voted to lower speed limits to 30km/h on local neighbourhood streets, while Saanich approved safe speed studies for nine traffic corridors later this year. 

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