–from Bill Dushenko
The Otter Point, Shirley and Jordan River Resident and Ratepayers Association (OPSRRA), established in 1992, represents about 400 residents from these three small, unincorporated communities west of Sooke.
We were very pleased to see the recent article (“Premier asks for re-do on Highway 14 study,” November 20, 2017) in the Sooke News Mirror about Premier John Horgan’s announcement that the province will be expanding its study and review of Highway 14 (Sooke and West Coast Roads) extending to Port Renfrew.
This route is the only major access point and connecting artery for the western communities of Sooke, Otter Point, Shirley, Jordan River and Port Renfrew along the Island’s south-west coast. It is heavily used by tourists, motorcyclists, commuters, public transit, logging and other industrial vehicles, as development continues to increase in this important social and economic region of south Vancouver Island.
It has also been noted by the Ministry of Transportation and Infrastructure (MOTI) that Highway 14 is the most “narrow-laned” highway system in the province.
We have been receiving ever-increasing concerns from within our communities (as well as neighbouring municipalities) on the issues of road safety, vehicle speed (particularly logging trucks and motorcycles) and increased volumes, which have hampered both the public road safety and the smooth movement of traffic along this important artery.
Based on statistics provided by the Shirley Fire Volunteer Fire Department, the number of vehicle accidents along this stretch of West Coast Road alone have ranged roughly between 9 to 16 per year; and this past year has been particularly high with a total of 16 incidents so far. Half the callouts between 2013 to 2016 were related to motor vehicle incidents (MVI) and 43% of MVI callouts occurred in the Muir Creek area. The statistics from Otter Point Volunteer Fire Department also indicate a similar accident rate and high number of MVIs in the Muir Creek Area. The top causes for incidents have been attributed to mechanical failure, speed and unsecured loads. Vehicles involved include several commercial vehicles and numerous light trucks, as well as motorcycles and cars.
Specific concerns include the following:
- lack of safe pullouts along this artery for public transit and other slow-moving vehicles that often create long traffic pile-ups;
- slow-moving vehicles causing long vehicle line-ups behind them;
- reduced speed signage around dangerous corners;
- unsafe shoulders and crumbling pavement along key areas of the route, creating hazards for cyclists and pedestrians;
- industrial traffic and motorcycles travelling at unsafe speeds and creating excessive noise for residents at unacceptable times of the day;
- inadequate resources for proper traffic enforcement by the RCMP; and
- increased MVIs that also halt traffic, sometimes for hours.
OPSRRA has collaborated with different community groups and agencies to address these problems of safety and noise. This included hosting a panel discussion held on November 5, 2017, on safety, speed and noise on West Coast Road. It involved the representatives from the RCMP, Commercial Vehicle Safety and Enforcement, Timberwest, Forest Safety Council, first responders, and CRD, as well as a representative attending from the office of our MLA, John Horgan.
OPSRRA commends the provincial government for recognizing the need to take action by conducting a full review of Highway 14 and we will continue our collaborative work with the MOTI and other agencies to ensure our roads become safe now and into the future.
Bill Dushenko, President,