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  • Slow down! And Saanich needs to step up to save deer and cyclists

    Pam Harrison

    I AM PROFOUNDLY DISCOURAGED AND ANGRY. Yet another deer was killed in front of our rural property on October 3rd. I do not think the person in a small white sedan who hit the deer with full-on impact, who did not stop, or slow down, has any idea of the damage caused. The damage starts first with the pain and suffering of the animal. I saw it start to cross, hoped it would make it, and then heard and saw the impact.

    The rest of the damage is for the people who are left to deal with the situation. This included me and the two kind passers-by who stopped and provided traffic control as the deer with broken legs and other injuries kept trying to get up the steep slope, could not, and kept falling back into the road. 

    We phoned all the correct numbers, waiting on hold each time. Then we waited nearly an hour, slowing traffic. Covering its head with a blanket calmed it and kept it still, but unfortunately Conservation, one of our calls, said not to do that. However, leaving it uncovered resulted in the animal moving uncontrollably, which was even less humane and risked more traffic problems. So I re-covered its head. I did not feel at risk, given its small size and the seriousness of the injuries.

    Saanich Animal Control attended towards the end of the hour. The deer was shot but not before it scrambled around again. The Animal Control officer followed prescribed protocol, but this added to the elapsed time. He was kind and calm.

    Although wildlife collisions are sometimes unavoidable, I know many could be avoided by slowing down and attentively scanning the sides of the roads. This collision could be in that category. Deer signs are put up for a reason. 

    If you do hit an animal, have the compassion to stay and assist. Don’t leave it to others. Maybe dealing with it would convince you of the need to slow down. This is one of five recent incidents nearby, three at this location. At least four of the drivers did not stop.

    Two further facts are concerning. First, it was challenging for the two citizens to actually get people to really slow down. One was sworn at and given the finger. 

    Secondly, the previous day we had observed the Tour de Victoria on this beautiful road. Although a number of drivers were considerate of the many riders as they laboured north up a narrow road between a blind hill and a blind corner, many behaved thoughtlessly, if not dangerously. We saw many who drove north fully in the oncoming traffic lane around the blind corner instead of waiting. And many who crested the hill from the south in the oncoming lane. And many times these same cars had to slow down to avoid oncomings, then move back into their lane, squeezing riders.

    Was there an accident or injury? No. Did riders thank us for trying to slow the traffic down? Yes. Did a significant number of drivers behave impatiently, indicating that they really do not understand what it is like for cyclists to be passed with speed and noise? Absolutely. This was a sanctioned, publicized event, but we see this frequently.

    Has Saanich done enough to address rural traffic concerns, major causes of which are speeds and aggressive driving? No. Solutions do exist, when are they going to be adopted? These are neighbourhoods: residents, wildlife and all users are affected. 

    Pam Harrison lives in rural Saanich.

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