Editorial: Need to look at more than just emergency Malahat bypass

We favour options that offer regular alternatives, not just a crash bypass.

Anyone who’s lived in the Cowichan Valley for any length of time knows that there has been a need for an alternative route to get to Victoria basically forever.

Currently, the only time-efficient way to get any volume of traffic from the Cowichan Valley to Victoria and surrounding south island communities is over the Malahat highway.

While the situation is better than it used to be because the province has widened the road in several places, there remain bottlenecks (notably at Goldstream Park) where, if there is a crash, traffic is completely blocked, sometimes for many hours. With hundreds of commuters relying on the road every day, not to mention tourists and occasional users, it’s a recurring significant headache.

Right now, alternate routes are slow and uncertain. The Pacific Marine Circle Route is, well, circuitous, taking drivers on a rural road from Sooke through Lake Cowichan. The roadway is largely unpaved, sparsely travelled, and not something recommended during bad weather. The Mill Bay-Brentwood Bay Ferry is slow and small, thus unable to move large traffic volumes. The E&N rail line, which is a straight shot from Victoria through Duncan and beyond, has been shut down for years due to the need for serious track upgrades.

So the status quo is undesirable.

All manner of fixes have been proposed by Vancouver Island residents over the years, including a bridge across the Saanich Inlet, a bigger, faster ferry, repairing the rail line, and twinning or building a new parallel highway.

Now, the provincial Ministry of Transportation and Infrastructure has announced a feasibility study for an emergency alternate route. It’s already causing some controversy, with folks riled up about the possibility of a route through the Capital Regional District watershed.

We favour options that offer regular alternatives, not just a crash bypass. Those will require long-term investments, possibly not just in roads. It’s time to be truly forward thinking. That won’t happen if we only look at emergency routes.

Just Posted

Climate strike draws huge crowd in Duncan

Millions strike for climate worldwide

Never Ending Summer Affair at Shawnigan looks on the bright side of life

A drop or two of rain won’t stop Shawnigan Lake folks from having a good time outdoors

Police ask public for assistance with Duncan house fire investigation

Fire gutted house on SAllenby Road on Sept. 16

PHOTOS: Young protesters in B.C. and beyond demand climate change action

Many of the protesters were children and youth who skipped school to take part in the demonstrations.

B.C. truck drivers to face higher fines for not using winter tire chains

As of Oct. 1, not using chains on the highway when required could net you a $598 ticket

Former B.C. lifeguard gets house arrest for possession of child porn

Cees Vanderniet of Grand Forks will serve six months of house arrest, then two years’ probation

Crown alleges resentment of ex-wife drove Oak Bay father to kill his daughters

Patrick Weir alleged in his closing arguments that Andrew Berry is responsible for the deaths of his daughters

‘I’d do it again,’ says B.C. man who swam naked, drunk in Toronto shark tank

David Weaver, of Nelson, was drunk when he went to Ripley’s Aquarium in Toronto on Oct. 12 2018

How to react to Trudeau’s racist photos? With humility, B.C. prof says

‘We are now treating racism as a crime that you cannot recover from’

Victoria man spots online photo of his totem pole 11 years after it was stolen

Mark Trueman restored the pole himself before it was stolen off of his property in Duncan

VIDEO: Fire destroys Williams Lake strip club targeted by past arson attempts

Diamonds and Dust Entertainment Lounge destroyed by fire, as well as New World Tea and Coffee House

Trudeau seeks meeting with Singh to apologize for blackface, brownface photos

‘I will be apologizing to him personally as a racialized Canadian,’ Trudeau said Friday

Most Read