Vancouver Island mayor wants province's help reducing road speeds

A Vancouver Island mayor is hoping a letter to Premier John Horgan will result in changes to the province's Motor Vehicle Act he says will help improve road safety and save lives.

Fred Haynes, mayor of the District of Saanich, wants to reduce speeds on residential roads. His letter appeals to the province to make legislative changes that would "help end the epidemic of road crash fatalities, serious injuries, collisions and near misses."

Specifically, Haynes wants the province to amend the Motor Vehicle Act (MVA) to allow municipalities to make blanket speed limit changes in residential areas. At present, municipalities can only enact  local bylaws to change the speed limit on individual streets. 

Haynes says the current legislation is an administrative and financial burden for communities and "creates a mosaic patchwork" of inconsistent road speeds that can be difficult for police and courts to enforce and doesn't do enough to improve drivers' actions.

"When you get piecemeal approaches ... then it is harder to get consistent behaviour," said Haynes in an interview on CBC's On The Island Monday.

Below 50 km/h

Haynes said he would like to see speeds on residential roads across B.C. lowered below the current 50 km/h limit. 

The mayor's letter comes after a group of Saanich residents renewed calls to improve road safety following a fatal motorcycle crash on Prospect Lake Road in September.

Haynes said he has heard from residents who are nervous commuting by bike or foot because of the speed cars are travelling on residential roads.

"If we are truly interested in safe streets that have active transportation, this approach is very reasonable," said Haynes about blanket speed reductions.

At the Union of B.C. Municipalities annual meeting  in September, mayors and councillors from across B.C. supported a resolution asking the province to consider amending the MVA to allow incorporated municipalities to institute speed zones in residential areas.

"What's the downside?" said Haynes, who noted reduced speeds which could lower the number of accidents could also put less strain on ICBC, which is struggling financially.

In a statement, the Ministry of Transportation said it has committed to reviewing the MVA and wants to work with communities to create policies and plans that work for them. 

Haynes' letter has been drafted but not delivered. It will be put before the district council Monday night for approval before being sent to the premier's office.