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Parents sound alarm over dangerous intersection near Saanich school

Parents say they’ve experienced many near-misses while walking children through the Quadra-Cook-Cloverdale intersection to Cloverdale Traditional School
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School crossing guard Caroline Thompson tries to help pedestrians cross safely at the intersection of Quadra Street, Cook Street and Cloverdale Avenue in Saanich on Wednesday morning. DARREN STONE, TIMES COLONIST

Two parents who say they and their children have been nearly hit by drivers at the intersection of Quadra and Cook streets near Cloverdale Traditional School have started a petition calling for action from the District of Saanich.

Malakai Button and Michelle Payne said some drivers are making the area where Quadra and Cook streets meet Cloverdale Avenue extremely dangerous for pedestrians.

They say vehicles turning right from Cook onto Quadra pose the biggest danger.

“Drivers do not slow down before turning,” the petition says. “The right-hand lane from Cook to Quadra is treated like an on-ramp/merge lane.”

The petition had attracted 166 signatures toward its goal of 200 by Wednesday.

Button said both she and Payne walk their children to and from school every day and have almost been hit by vehicles on many occasions while in the crosswalk.

Button said the intersection has been a problem for years, and the issue has been raised with the school’s Parent Advisory Council.

“We want Saanich to take a closer look at some intermediate steps that could be taken to improve safety,” she said.

Those could include prohibiting right turns on red lights from Cook to Quadra, or having an advanced pedestrian signal at the crossing.

Drivers failing to stop for a pedestrian in a crosswalk could be fined $167 for failure to yield and $196 for driving without consideration.

Caroline Thompson, an education assistant at Cloverdale who handles morning crossing-guard duties at the intersection, said this is her second year patrolling the area and she sees the same problems — and has also come close to being hit many times.

“This is my community, it’s my school community and I’m quite happy to help our families and children get across the road safely,” she said. “But it is dangerous. I’m not going to sugar-coat it.”

Thompson said she is surprised at how many people driving on Cook “fly around the corner onto Quadra Street when there’s a red light.”

“They just don’t stop.”

Something to make the area safer “is long overdue,” she said.

Sgt. Damian Kowalewich of Saanich police said the intersection is a high priority for its Traffic Safety Unit. Police routinely conduct patrols and enforcement in the area, which has a large volume of traffic, he said.

Saanich Coun. Teale Phelps Bondaroff, who chairs the municipality’s transportation advisory committee, said he lives nearby and is aware of the petition.

He and Button are meeting on Thursday.

“That’s an interesting challenge at the intersection because you have lots of different roads, there’s a school, a gas station,” he said. “I always appreciate it when people raise traffic concerns.”

He said Saanich’s active-transportation plan update, road-safety strategy and speed-reduction strategy could all have some application in the area.

The Greater Victoria School District said it’s also aware of the petition and is reviewing the issue, and will have an official response in early January.

This spring, chronic problems with some drivers near Centre Mountain Lellum Middle School and PEXSISEN Elementary School in Langford led to crossing guards being moved to a different location and students being directed to use an alternative route.

One of the crossing guards said that a colleague had been bumped by a vehicle, and there were reports that drivers would get angry and impatient when the crossing guards tried to do their job.

The primary concern was a roundabout on busy West Shore Parkway near the two adjacent Langford schools, which opened in 2022.

West Shore RCMP increased their presence in the area at the height of the problem.

The Quadra/Cook petition is at change.org/p/create-a-safer-school-crossing-at-quadra-cloverdale-cook-intersection?source_location=search.

jbell@timescolonist.com