Central Saanich asking for feedback on first active transportation plan

Central Saanich is seeking public input on its first active transportation plan, which includes infrastructure projects as well as programs to encourage walking, cycling and transit.

The draft plan assigns top priority to filling gaps in the sidewalk, trail and cycling networks and improving road safety, ­particularly in more densely populated areas like Brentwood and Saanichton. It proposes new multi-use pathways, sidewalks, bike lanes and bike parking, and upgrades to crosswalks with flashing lights.

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Residents identified active transportation as a top priority in the municipality’s 2019 annual survey, said Brian Barnett, director of engineering and public works.

“People just don’t really feel safe when they’re walking along the road and there’s not a separation between the vehicles, the cars or trucks, and they’re walking quite close, uncomfortably close,” Barnett said. The highest-risk areas are intersections on the Pat Bay highway, he said.

The draft plan proposes programs to support active transportation, such as funding for a bicycle skills training program, a driver and cyclist etiquette education and awareness program, and updates to bike-parking design.

A need was identified for bike parking at several parks, including Centennial Park, Pioneer Park and Polo Park. The plan also proposes e-bike charging facilities at the municipal hall and library.

Proposed projects include a sidewalk on East Saanich Road between Wallace Drive and Jeffree Road to connect two existing sidewalks, a mid-block crosswalk on Wallace Drive in Saanichton and a bike lane on Wallace Drive between East Saanich Road and Prosser Road, among others.

Mayor Ryan Windsor said he receives a lot of questions about cycling in the district and believes there’s interest in bike infrastructure.

While the municipality has previously built projects that support active transportation, this is the first time they’ve created a co-ordinated plan, he said.

The municipality was recently approved for more than $300,000 in grant funding to build a multi-use path on Benvenuto Avenue from ­Wallace Drive to Butchart Gardens. They’ve also applied for more than $1 million for improvements to school zones.

The draft plan will come to council in the next few months, after the community has had a chance to weigh in.

If approved, it will be included in the district’s budgeting process to allocate funding, Barnett said.

Anyone interested in providing feedback can complete a short survey until March 31 at letstalkcentralsaanich.ca/activetransportation.

regan-elliott@timescolonist.com

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