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Push on for lower speed limits after teen struck in Saanich crosswalk

“This is not something that we can keep tolerating,” says Coun. Zac de Vries.
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A teen was struck in the crosswalk at Wascana Street and Burnside Road West on Thursday, June 23, 2022. NINA GROSSMAN, TIMES COLONIST

Calls for improved road safety in Saanich are being renewed after a 17-year-old was struck in a crosswalk Thursday.

The teenager was crossing Burnside Road West at Wascana Street when struck by a driver in a 2006 Pontiac Montana. Saanich police are still investigating the cause of the collision.

Const. Markus Anastasiades said drivers should pay extra attention when approaching crosswalks and pedestrians should ensure traffic has stopped before entering.

“These types of collisions, some of which can have tragic outcomes, are preventable,” he said.

Saanich Coun. Zac de Vries agreed.

“Regardless of what happens here, that person’s life is forever changed,” de Vries said. “Even if they recover from these injuries, it will have an impact on them. This is not something that we can keep tolerating.”

The teen is the second youth to be hit in a marked Saanich crosswalk in the past seven months. On Dec. 6, 16-year-old Kaydence Bourque was struck in a crosswalk on Cedar Hill Cross Road after getting off a bus less than 30 metres from his home. He later died in hospital.

His mother, Crystal Bourque, said the district has installed plastic traffic poles and put up a light over the crosswalk where her son was hit.

“This is not enough,” she said. “They need to reduce the speed limit to 30 kilometres [an hour] on every street that has painted crosswalks in Saanich.”

Bourque said the past six months have been the hardest of her life, and her heart is with the family of the teen hit Thursday.

“Street safety needs to be changed immediately,” she said. “I hear cars speeding past my house. There is no reason people need to be driving that fast in residential areas.”

De Vries and councillors Rebecca Mersereau and Ned Taylor put forward a motion in January to accelerate Saanich’s “Vision Zero” plan, a road-safety strategy focused on eliminating traffic fatalities and injuries through better infrastructure and reduced speeds. Councillors voted unanimously for a staff report on the matter.

A critical decision is coming July 4, when council will vote on speed reductions, de Vries said. If the motion is supported, large areas of Saanich will see speed limits reduced to 30 km/h.

“We’re going to be discussing speed limits first because if we can get the speed limits down, we’re at least limiting the damage that’s possible,” he said.

Victoria city council recently gave the green light for lower speed limits on residential streets, requesting staff to prepare changes to the streets and traffic bylaw.

In their report, City of Victoria staff said slower speed limits reduce the probability of death, writing that “collisions with vulnerable road users at 30 km/h or less correlate with a 10 per cent probability of death when compared with a 30 per cent probability of death at 40 km/h or 85 per cent at 50 km/h.”

De Vries said Saanich was developed with a focus on vehicles.

“We have a lack of sidewalks and other infrastructure as a result of that, because that’s how our history has shaped us,” he said.

“We have prioritized the convenience of movement for large automobiles over the safety of vulnerable road users, particularly children who are trying to walk around our community.”

In 2017, 11-year-old Leila Bui was struck by a vehicle while in a crosswalk on Ash Road in Gordon Head. She was thrown 26 metres and became wedged under an oncoming car. She ­suffered severe brain damage, a fractured neck and a lacerated spleen. The driver, whom court heard had been speeding and texting, was convicted of dangerous driving causing bodily harm.

ngrossman@timescolonist.com

— With files from Andrew Duffy