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Central Saanich paves way for safer walking and cycling routes to schools

The routes to Keating Elementary School, Bayside Middle School and Brentwood Elementary were identified as top priorities in the district’s active transportation plan, which was released last year.
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A crosswalk on Central Saanich Road north of Keating Cross Road and across from Keating Elementary. Walking and cycling routes to the school are expected to be improved with help from a $500,000 active-transportation grant. ADRIAN LAM, TIMES COLONIST

Central Saanich plans to spend $890,000 to improve walking and cycling routes to three area schools, armed with $500,000 in provincial grant money.

The two routes — the crossing area on Central Saanich Road to Keating Elementary School, and the intersection at Wallace Drive and Marchant Road on the way to both Bayside Middle School and Brentwood Elementary — were identified as top priorities in the district’s active transportation plan, released last year.

“Walking and cycling to school should be a safe experience for children and their families,” said Central Saanich Mayor Ryan Windsor in a statement. “We are grateful to the province for recognizing the importance of these upgrades for the school communities, and our wider community.

“Contributions such as this really make all the difference for a community like ours with a modest tax base.”

The two projects are expected to be completed before the start of school this fall. The work includes construction of new crosswalks with flashing lights, as well as several hundred metres of sidewalk extensions.

The provincial money comes from the B.C. Active Transportation Infrastructure Grant program.

Since Central Saanich adopted its active transportation plan, which encourages cycling and walking by investing in transportation infrastructure, safety and transit options, the district has invested in school travel planning, cycling support programs, pursuing e-bike charging facilities and improved lighting to make routes better and safer, it says.

It used another provincial grant to pay for a $322,800 multi-use pathway on the lower portion of Benvenuto Avenue beginning at Wallace Drive. The 450-metre-long pathway is to be partially separated from the road and may include pedestrian lighting and a crosswalk.

The district, in partnership with B.C. Transit, also had three new bus shelters with solar-powered lighting installed at Marchant Road and Hagan Road, in front of the Keating Fire Station and at West Saanich Road and Dignan Road.

aduffy@timescolonist.com

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