Saanich is en route to changing its default speed limit to 30 km/h for residential roads with no centreline.
On March 22, council considered a report co-written by Couns. Rebecca Mersereau, Ned Taylor and Zac de Vries calling for the district’s application for a provincial pilot project to be amended to reduce the default speed on residential roads to 30 km/h instead of 40 km/h. While the Saanich police board advised against a 30 km/h limit, council voted unanimously in favour.
Last year, Saanich and several other municipalities in the region, agreed to take part in the provincial pilot project to reduce the default speed on residential roads from 50 km/h to 40 km/h. Victoria council opted to move to 30 km/h and de Vries, Taylor and Mersereau felt Saanich should consider the same.
Studies show pedestrians have a much higher chance of survival if struck by a vehicle going 30 km/h rather than 40 or 50 km/h, Taylor said, adding that slower speeds give drivers more time to avoid collisions.
He was pleased to see council support the recommendation noting families have expressed concerns about their children’s safety on neighbourhood roads.
Hundreds of residents called or wrote to council to weigh in – many pointing out that speed statistics don’t capture the discomfort they feel as vulnerable road users, Mersereau said. These fears can deter people from using active transportation and exploring their neighbourhoods.
“I believe the unanimous vote is a testament to the significant positive response received from community members in the days leading up to this vote,” she said.
De Vries agreed, adding that the decision “brought tears of joy” for many.
It sends a strong message that council will take action to address road safety concerns, said former councillor Dean Murdock, founder of the advocacy group Better Mobility Saanich. While reducing residential road speeds won’t solve all safety issues, it will make neighbourhood streets more liveable.
If the province approves Saanich’s application, the default road speed would be reduced to 30 km/h only on residential roads for the duration of the pilot project – three years.