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

Robert Barron column: Kudos to hydro crews

It would have been enough work for any hydro crew just to deal with a few houses on one street

Andrea Rondeau column: We are totally dependent on technology

At no time was that quite so apparent as during the massive windstorm on Dec. 20.

T.W. Paterson column: ‘Dull’ Lubbe Lake belies its colourful namesake

“Brilliant scholar” and engineering graduate of Cornell University, was said to be no one’s fool.

Robert scores two as Caps double up Nanaimo

Cowichan knocks off Island rivals 4-2 on Friday night

Students seen mocking Native Americans could face expulsion

One 11-minute video of the confrontation shows the Haka dance and students loudly chanting

Coming up in Cowichan: Anti-pipeline meeting; women’s shelter open house

Public meeting in Duncan to support pipeline protests A public meeting has… Continue reading

B.C. VIEWS: Fact-checking the NDP’s speculation tax on empty homes

Negative-option billing is still legal for governments

May plans next move in Brexit fight as chances rise of delay

Some say a lack of action could trigger a ‘public tsunami’

Group challenges ruling for doctors to give referrals for services that clash with beliefs

A group of five Canadian doctors and three professional organizations is appealing

Major winter storm wreaks havoc on U.S. travel

Nearly 5,000 flights were cancelled Sunday around the country

Want to avoid the speculation tax on your vacant home? Rent it out, Horgan says

Premier John Horgan and Sheila Malcolmson say speculation and vacancy tax addresses homelessness

CONSUMER REPORT: What to buy each month in 2019 to save money

Resolve to buy all of the things you want and need, but pay less money for them

UPDATE: B.C. woman and boy, 6, found safe, RCMP confirm

Roseanne Supernault says both she and her six-year-old nephew are fine and she has contacted police

Most Read