Friday, June 18, 2010

Pat Bay & Sayward: Cordova Bay Speaks Out

Here is an article about the community forum I organized this week by Roger Stonebanks of the hard-working Cordova Bay Association for Community Affairs

Safety first - and, please communicate
at Pat Bay and Sayward

The Ministry of Transportation and Infrastructure must engage in meaningful community consultation before plans are drawn up for changes to the Patricia Bay Highway and Sayward Road - as well as at 'open houses' after plans are prepared for public reaction.

This message was delivered to the ministry before a standing-room-only audience of 115 residents by speakers at a public safety forum on June 15/2010 organized by Saanich South MLA Lana Popham at Cordova Bay Community Place.

The Cordova Bay Association for Community Affairs (CBA) has been campaigning for more than a year for 'safety first' fixes at the intersection which is one of the most dangerous in terms of crashes on Vancouver Island. For details and background including two important traffic reports, please click on: Pat Bay/Sayward intersection safety issues.

Recently, the ministry disclosed that it is planning some changes at the intersection and will present them at 'open houses' for public comment. But speakers including Wayne Christmas, chairperson of the CBA traffic committee, said the ministry should consider public opinion before making plans by organizing a public input forum - as well as afterwards. He also said changes should improve safety and not increase cut-through traffic within Cordova Bay. 

Members of the public gave a number of ideas for changes at the intersection. Popham said she has received many responses to her opinion survey and promised that all communications that she receives will be delivered to the ministry and to Saanich municipality - ahead of plans being finalized by the ministry. The survey is available on her

Patrick Livolsi, the ministry's regional director for the south coast, said a consultant has been engaged to review past traffic reports and identify a long-term strategy as well as what can be done now to reduce accidents. The consultant will work with Saanich municipality. He hoped changes will include a park-and-ride facility. He promised the highway won't be increased to six lanes - it will stay at four lanes.

"We are trying to pare down options to the public for feed-back for small-scale improvements," he said. He noted that 68 per cent of accidents are rear-enders and they occur at the approaches to the intersection as well as at the intersection.

The ministry first disclosed last March on CBC Radio that it hopes to have plans ready for public comment this fall, "safety mitigation measures" short of an interchange that would significantly reduce the accident record. The cost might be $2 to $3 million.

Coun. Judy Brownoff, Saanich council's liaison with the ministry (along with Coun. Leif Wergeland, who lives in Cordova Bay and who attended the meeting as well as several other councillors), said council has emphasized that the ministry must engage the public - "There has to be true meaningful engagement. This community wants meaningful consultation."
When one speaker asked if the ministry would be willing to form a consultation committee, Livolsi said "We'll take that under consideration."

Coun. Brownoff said the Pat Bay/Sayward intersection is the second-worst in Saanich for accidents (using ICBC figures) - and surprised the audience by identifying the worst as Wilkinson Road/Interurban Road which she said has a lot of traffic cutting through between Patricia Bay Highway and Trans-Canada Highway.

She said Saanich Police have told her that speed is not a factor in most accidents at Pat Bay/Sayward. The biggest issues are inattentiveness by drivers and following too closely. Most accidents occur in the afternoon.

One speaker said the community needs to decide whether or not it is prepared to accept an interchange (as forecast in several traffic reports) - and if not, the discussion would go in another direction. Comments at the meeting indicated support for safety measures at the present intersection but not an interchange or "grade level separation" as it was sometimes called.

Popham concluded the meeting by again stating that all opinions that she receives from the public will be delivered to the ministry and Saanich. "This is just the beginning of community consultation," she said.

(News item provided by Roger Stonebanks, former president of the CBA.)

Reprinted with permission.