Traffic safety improvements are coming to North Saanich’s Deep Cove neighbourhood, but one local entrepreneur directly impacted by the changes opposes them.
On Monday (April 12) council unanimously agreed to replace nine existing frontage parking spaces at Deep Cove Community Market with two parallel spots on West Saanich and three perpendicular spots on Birch for a total of five. The decision followed the presentation of a traffic study that found safety concerns for pedestrians and motorists at the site.
But Rosemary Scott, long-time owner of the business, disagrees with the measures.
“I’m 100 per cent opposed,” she said. “This is going to create more traffic issues. (And) if the community was given any chance to have an open consultation about this, the whole community would rally and say ‘no.’”
The market is a popular shopping and gathering space for area residents and others, including children attending nearby Deep Cove Elementary and their parents, who at pickup time often park on the gravel shoulder just north of the market on the same side of West Saanich Road.
Another nearby traffic source is St. John’s Church opposite the school, which hosts North Saanich’s farmers market on Saturday and services on Sunday.
Coun. Murray Weisenberger said Monday the parking change will ultimately improve safety.
“This is the minimum we can do to keep things safe,” he said.
Besides the adjacent spaces, the market has an off-street lot with 15 spaces, accessed from West Saanich Road.
District staff say the change is aimed at creating more space for pedestrians, as well as southbound cyclists on West Saanich, and make it safer for motorists around the market to enter the roadways. Of particular note is the safety hazard caused by vehicles backing out of parking spots on the store’s West Saanich frontage.
The change aims to create better sight lines for motorists pulling out of parking spots onto West Saanich Road, and drivers turning left from Birch Road to head northbound up West Saanich.
“This option (parallel parking) represents the greatest opportunity to address objectives of improving multi-modal safety by improving sight lines,” said Ben Martin, North Saanich’s director of infrastructure services.
The change raises the possibility of more pedestrians and cyclists travelling along the West Saanich frontage and across the store’s loading zone area, she said.
“The sidewalk is on the east side (of West Saanich Road),” she said. “There is no sidewalk on the west side. So people should not be walking across the front of the parking lot, across the loading zone over to the grassy area where the school cars park. That’s not safe.”
Scott said she shared her concerns with the municipality, which has authority over the parking spots in front of the store, and also inquired about creating more parking spots along Birch Road. Staff said Monday that three or four additional spots could be created along Birch Road.
Coun. Brett Smyth, who called the market a “community treasure,” later praised staff for working with Scott to explore ways to create additional parking spots along Birch.
By virtue of its location near a gas station, church and school along a busy road used frequently by cyclists and other users, the market is a popular destination and changes to parking arrangements will likely cause further discussion.
Coun. Patricia Pearson acknowledged this during Monday’s meeting, noting the pending changes will take time to get used to. Any loss of convenience would be offset by improved safety for all, she said, expressing hope the improvements would be the first in a series of changes to the area. “The area as a whole is a challenge.”
Coun. Heather Gartshore struck a comparable note, saying, “this is not intended to be punitive.”
Council also unanimously approved upgrades around the nearby intersection of West Saanich and Wain roads.
Sight-line improvements on the southeast corner aim to negate the need for drivers on Wain Road to pull past the stop line to fully see northbound traffic on West Saanich. Plans also call for improving pedestrian safety on the east side of West Saanich, north of Wain.
For her part, Scott said the measures are insufficient and called for a four-way-stop given traffic volumes and speeds along West Saanich. Staff said they do not anticipate such a move to be necessary until 2041.
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