For the second year in a row, Council increased the sidewalk construction budget by a half-million dollars. This provides a much needed boost to spending to accelerate pedestrian infrastructure projects all over Saanich. The increase in sidewalk spending represents a significant shift in priorities in favour of pedestrian mobility.
Proper sidewalks let people of all ages do more than just get from one place to another. They foster a sense of community. When we go out walking, we meet our neighbours and see and feel the natural beauty that surrounds us here in our community. Walking also reduces our greenhouse gas emissions by letting us avoid using the car. We are much more likely to walk to the grocery store, or just take an evening stroll, if we have a safe and pleasant walking surface.
There are safety and health benefits too. Our population is aging, and many seniors who don’t feel safe on worn or uneven footpaths need a proper sidewalk to stay mobile and healthy.
Serving pedestrians with sidewalks and crosswalks has a much-needed traffic calming effect. Studies have proven that routes with sidewalks, bike lanes, and natural vegetation result in lower driving speeds. Commuters see that our streets are not through-ways or highways, but are the veins of life of our neighbourhoods.
Sidewalk spending is an investment in more than just concrete and asphalt. It means healthier communities, climate protection, better environment, safety, and mobility.
This year’s budget makes pedestrian mobility a greater priority. I believe it is important that Council continues to invest in making Saanich a more walkable community.
Saanich is a great place to live. Let’s give people the chance to get out there and enjoy it!