Wednesday, 22 November 2017

Otter Point Volunteer Fire Department Candy Cane Run

The Otter Point Volunteer Fire Department annual Candy Cane Run will take place in Otter Point on Saturday, December 9, 2017.

Santa will tour Otter Point on a decorated fire engine and will hand out candy canes to the kids.

Santa will also collect food and cash donations to support the Sooke Christmas Bureau and local families in need. 

Food donation bags should arrive in your Sooke News Mirror box on November 29, 2017. Or, stop by the Otter Point Fire Department to pick up a bag after November 29, 2017.

Watch for the schedule.

Editor: Santa also loves cookies 

Tuesday, 21 November 2017

Road Safety pre-meeting slideshow with statistics

Link to the PDF meeting notes on our website:

Link to the pre-meeting slideshow:

Sun. Nov. 5, 2017 | 2:00 – 4:30 PM | Juan De Fuca (JdF) Local Area Services Building

Meeting Notes Special Issues Panel - Speed, Safety & Noise On West Coast & Otter Point Roads

Link to the PDF on our website:

Link to the pre-meeting slideshow:

Sun. Nov. 5, 2017 | 2:00 – 4:30 PM | Juan De Fuca (JdF) Local Area Services Building

  1. Introductions Bill Dushenko, OPSRRA President
  1. Welcome from Honourable John Horgan, Premier and MLA Langford-Juan de Fuca - Bruce Fogg, Executive Assistant welcomed the local residents and passed on
Premier Horgan’s best wishes. He indicated that he would be taking notes to pass along to Premier Horgan who was at another event.
  1. Moderator Mike Hicks, RD, JDF EA
Mike Hicks provided a background on which body of government was in charge of roadways and reviewed the agenda for the event.
  1. Panelists
  • Jeff McArthur – RCMP Staff Sergeant, Sooke Detachment - Accidents, severity and, policing options
The Dept. covers the region from Connie Rd to halfway between Port Renfrew & Lake Cowichan and are experiencing staff shortages.
Current resources include 17 members of the local detachment 13 of which are paid for by Sooke. Stats currently bear out that the remaining staff of four - which is 23% of the current force - are covering 23% of the incoming calls from the other rural areas being serviced.
Those four Provincial Members are responsible for East Sooke, Otter Point, Shirley, Jordan River, Port Renfrew and the old growth forest in the area - areas that can take as much as five hours to reach for a single call. These officers are responsible for everything from First Nations policing to property and violent crimes to search and rescue, as well as typical admin and testimony at court cases. Road patrols are only a portion of their overall duties.
One positive change to assist in traffic tickets includes recent case law that that succeeded in charging a motorist with excessive noise using just the testimony of the officer rather than utilizing decibel meters and an objective standard. There has been a promise to utilize forces to increase enforcement on the roadways.

  • Steve Bauer – Manager/ Acting Regional Manager Commercial Transport, Commercial Vehicle Safety and Enforcement (CVSE) - Trucking regulation/policing, compliance and traffic levels.
CVSE is a provincial body that is integrated with both a national and international program through CVSA (Commercial Vehicle Safety Alliance) to enforce commercial vehicle safety, size and weight on our highways throughout North America.
South Island CVSE is responsible for looking after 8,000 vehicles with 2,000 carriers; this includes commercial – light and heavy - trucks, taxis, school buses. Regulation is done through ticketing, which can then escalate to warning letters, compliance reviews, then audits and, ultimately, the loss of licensing for that carrier.
This group also creates standards for commercial transports and proposes change as needed through analysis on safety statistics and new technology. Any vehicle licensed for over 8200 kg must have a mechanical inspection done every six months (this includes buses, gravel and logging trucks). Each year 250 targeted checks are done provincially with partners focused on driving behaviours by both truckers and other drivers. Recent stats indicate that, in accidents involving large trucks and passenger vehicles, the passenger vehicles were 70% more likely to have been found at fault.

  • Al Wickheim – First Responder and Former Paramedic, Community Coordinator Emergency Manager - Challenges for emergency services providers, accident severity and seasonality
Concerns have been voiced about 3am noise and slow moving vehicles, and most importantly that heavy truck traffic contributes to roadway instability and pavement degradation.
Concerns have also been raised around school areas, Sandcut Beach and Jordan River where insufficient parking has resulted in heavy use of narrow shoulders for drop off, pick up and short-term parking. The result is dangerous conditions for passengers/ children getting in or out of cars while avoiding trucks and other cars driving along the road.
Emergency responders currently do not have the capacity or WorkSafe permission to break up a load of logs in case of an accident where a load is lost. This includes extreme conditions where a vehicle is trapped under them or if the single road in or out of town is impassable. Road closures have a wide-spread negative effect on the community creating unreliability and safety concerns if there is an emergency beyond the accident.
Noise from trucks is creating chronic sleep deprivation in the community, this is both a health and safety concern.
Trucks, even expertly driven ones, are too big for narrow curvy roadways and cannot keep fully on their side of the yellow line.
Weekend traffic tends to ignore speed signs driving either too slowly or too quickly for the roadways and road conditions. A mind-map was also provided illustrating relationships between impacts, underlying causes, and possible solutions.

  • Mike Bowater– Contract Manager, Timberwest – Challenges for business and trucks on the roadways, safety information and opportunities for coordinated industry efforts.
Timberwest’s priority is safety for employees and the community.
There was a cultural shift in the forest industry starting in 2004, moving towards safety first. There has also been an engagement from leadership down to staff and even contractors to focus on safety first.
To support that vision, in addition to internal training, there is CVSE policing, log truck driver assessment/mentoring program, and weigh-ins for every truckload. The latest safety feature is the installation of real-time GPS data tracking that measures speed by the minute.

  • Robert Moonen – CEO, BC Forest Safety Council – Industry roadway challenges, accident severity and trends, industry initiatives and logging value to the community
The roads haven’t seemed to have changed in 20 years despite the exponential growth (18%) in the region.
Statistically, only one, out of the 1.4 million loads of logs in BC, doesn’t make it safely to its destination, but the goal is to reduce that even further. The industry created its own association to manage safety. Training has been done with drivers on the anatomy of a rollover and the physics behind it. As an industry, this work has reduced the number of logging truck rollovers since 2013 by 50%. In all there were 20 in BC in 2015 and just over 10 in 2016. In recent surveys to logging truck drivers, speed was one of the number one concerns of the truck drivers.

  1. Questions and Exploring Solutions – Over 45 residents were in the room and several took the opportunity to voice their thoughts, concerns and solutions. Where appropriate, the panelists responded.

Mike Hicks has applied to the Premier and is working to meet with the Ministry of Transportation on the issues relating to Otter Point and West Coast Roads. In particular, the lack of shoulders on Otter Point Road has been identified as a priority. Although MoT has indicated that there will not be an overhaul of the West Coast Road, there is a commitment to each year work to improve the road.

Community Comments:

First question was why the Ministry of Transportation was not at the event. Answer: They declined but detailed notes will be provided to them.
Why don’t the trucks take the Circle Route to Ladysmith which should be the shortest route? Answer: The shortest route is to travel through Sooke and then up the Malahat. Clarification: Are offroad trucks used? Answer: Most trucks are highway trucks.

Noise is a big concern on Gordon’s Beach. Motorcycles, followed by gravel trucks then logging trucks are the third. The motorcycles, in particular, shake the house with the noise. Speed is a factor in this issue. Currently Gordon’s Beach is posted at 80km and the request is to drop it to 60km/hr. Answer: Request has been made to Premier Horgan’s office to reduce the speed limit. Clarification: Speed limit change needs enforcement coupled with noise enforcement. Request from RCMP to the attendees to provide data on when (dates, times on average) highest dangerous/noisy traffic happens.

Otter Point to Jordan River – with the exception of dangerous corners - is 80km/hr. Too many drivers are unfamiliar with the roads and this creates a dangerous situation. There is the feeling that the road should be no more than 70km/hr until past Sandcut. It was asked of the room to all write to the Premier about the road and make requests to make it safer, we can’t just rely on Mike Hicks or OPSRRA. Answer: OPSRRA sent a letter to Premier Horgan’s office re: safety issues along the route back in September.
Clarification: Mike Hicks suggested that there should be a Ministry of Transportation study on the affected roads.

(Four consecutive requests) Safe routes to and from schools are a priority as so many young families are moving here. Infrastructure needs to be put in place for students to walk or bike or ride to school along the roadways with a 20-year plan to reinforce community. Ideally these are segregated paths. As well, trees to be trimmed to improve visual lines.

One request was to complete the rumoured four-lane highway to Sassenos to alleviate traffic line-ups on West Coast Rd.

Widen the roads so that vehicles don’t come over the centre line.

Reminder to locals to be smart on the roads, walk in a way that is visible and not too close to traffic; commendation went out to the professional drivers who are courteous

Clean the cement barriers (it has been a couple of years since the last cleaning). Debris has built up resulting in an even smaller shoulder and in the winter the drainage holes are being blocked which has increased the amount of ice on the road.

Overloaded private trucks that come to pirate firewood from the area are filled to the point of being unsafe. Answer: CVSE cannot address private passenger vehicles. However, they can work with local enforcement agencies to assist.

Four of the curves on Otter Point Rd. need adjusting for safety. People are unable to stay within their lane and/or hold the road. The corner at Muir Creek and Jordan River were also noted as being dangerous and exceeding a 90 degree turn.
Noise, truck traffic and speed is having an impact on property values on West Coast Rd. BC Assessment should reexamine the value for those.

Seasonal flow of traffic relating to logging trucks and tourists is an issue. May is heavy with logging trucks, perhaps 3x as much as other times of the year.

Speed is an issue on the road particularly in the high risk Muir Creek area. Do traffic fines help to cover the costs for a new RCMP officer? Is there something we can do to help? Discussion ensued regarding the fines and consequences for speeding in Ontario vs. BC. Answer: No, fines do not go back to the issuing force. There is a volunteer program Speed Watch and they need volunteers – please email Jeff McArthur ( to be a part of this group. Options for increasing the force includes a write-in campaign to your MLA to ask for more RCMP resources. Mike Hicks promised to reach out to the Ministry of Transportation to request a site review of the roadways with an MoT representative travelling with OPSRRA to point out the issues.

Recent road improvements on West Coast Road includes the white reflective signs done by MoT.

Should the public shoot videos of the speeders? Answer: It would reduce resources on the road and after that only a very limited ticket can be issued (no points, no assessment to the driver).

Discussion regarding traffic cameras. A lot of private driveways are a direct access to the highways, unfortunately trees/brush are creating sightline issues. It was requested to everyone to keep their front areas trimmed and a reminder to everyone in the room to slowdown.

There has been a dramatic increase in the motorcycle traffic in the last 10 years. Roughly 100 – 150 bikes a day have been counted that are more tourists than local residents. An iPhone decibel reader shows many of them exceeding 100 decibels.

Road rage is increasing, particularly tailgating which is very dangerous on this road. There are few places to pass slow moving traffic between Jordan River and nearly to Langford. The road to Tofino has mandatory pull-out zones and that would be something that would help a lot. Answer: there have been signs asking for drivers to be courteous and pull over, but safe-to-use shoulders are limited, and in many places the signs have been defaced.

Increasing number of ATV drivers using the forest in Blueberry Flats for recreational purposes has been noted. During dry summers, it is a safety risk to have those vehicles on the tinder dry forest. A request went out to TimberWest to once again post a security person to limit access during fire season.

Concerns exist that truck drivers are using Jake brakes on flat straightaways. Residents are being forced to wear industrial earplugs to protect their ears when working outside. There was a request to send the commercial trucks along the circle route.
  1. Final Remarks

Bill Dushenko reviewed the final steps and wrap-up for the meeting, including follow-up with the Ministry of Transportation and the Premier. By working collaboratlvely with our community stakeholders and agencies, the hope is to make a difference in addressing these important issues in our communities.

Thursday, 16 November 2017

Winter blasting on Private Managed Forest lands north of Otter Point Road

Please be advised that TimberWest has begun road building activities in our Private Managed Forest lands north of Otter Point Road near Sooke.

The 1:50,000 scale map shows the roads that are currently being built in bold red.

Blasting for these roadways has commenced and will continue periodically thoughout the project Monday to Friday, from 8:00am to 5:00pm, ending March, 2018. Efforts are being made to reduce the noise and impacts of the blasting activities.

At TimberWest safety is our highest priority. When active road-building is taking place our 
employees and contractors abide by strict safety rules. We expect, and strongly encourage, private citizens to abide by our safety focus and respect our worksite by not entering any active areas. For your safety, and the safety of our employees and contractors, please adhere to posted advisory signs.

Our sincere apologies for any inconvenience this may cause.

If you have any questions or require further clarification please contact our TimberWest office in Nanaimo at 250-716-3700.

Thank you for your co-operation, 

Wednesday, 15 November 2017

Excerpt of a letter from Dan Peiser to To: S/Sgt Jeff McArthur, RCMP

I moved to Otter Point in February and have noticed, while driving in the area, RCMP vehicles stopped on West Coast Road just twice: once during the summer when BC Hydro crews were doing work in Shirley and Wednesday, November 8, 2017, when a tree came down around the 7800-block area.

I believe it is the absence of RCMP presence, which contributes to the excessive speeding and noise and resulting dangerous driving conditions.

I would like to suggest that you consider a few optimal times (from my observations) for your staff to "stake out" the busiest travel times.

In order of seriousness:

1. Sundays from about 11:30 AM to 1:30 PM are the worst for motorcycles (often without mufflers) on the Pacific-Marine Loop ride heading north-west, as pointed out at the meeting by the man who is building a house at Gordon's Beach.
Their speeds and noise seem to be the most excessive of any category of vehicle. West Coast Road feels more like a private speedway for the motorcycles during these times. However, the safety implications are significant with the increased numbers of tourists, who often are not the least bit familiar with driving on our winding roads.
Perhaps this might not be the busiest time for your staff to respond to more pressing drug, alcohol, or altercation-related incidents so it could work out well to assign them every other week or so.

2. Outside of the summer, Monday mornings are the next worst period for noise and speeding from 6:00 AM—often earlier—until about 8:30 AM. This is when the logging and gravel trucks are heading south-east, trying to rush their loads in early. This pattern is a major safety concern for school traffic, seniors, and commuters.

3. Sunday afternoons and evenings, approximately 3:3 to- 6: 30 PM, are very heavy travel times going south-east, particularly late spring/summer, with both speeding and aggressive driving being especially problematic. Many motorcycles (mentioned above) are returning from completing the "loop".

4. The Friday evening traffic 4:00 to 7:00 PM, (heading north-west), both in the summer and off-season is the next worst, with people speeding to get to accommodations for the weekend, rushing home after a long week, or logging/gravel trucks hurrying back after emptying their loads.

I suspect that item four might be difficult for your staff planning, as Friday nights are notorious for all sorts of law-enforcement problems—you'd know better than I, no doubt. However, the three others might be easier to-plan intermittent roadside "stakeouts".

My questions are:

1. When do you anticipate being able to start enforcing the speed limits out here? I realize that your detachment has been under-staffed, but perhaps you can phase in some of the above now, rather than waiting for the tourist season next year.

2. Is photo radar a possibility for West Coast Road? I realize that the Malahat is different in its configuration, but this might be useful, given your staffing constraints. This, of course, in more of a medium-term issue but one which could help.

3. Is there anything else the public can do to help you? I wasn't clear from the meeting if there are ways we can help out. I'm sure many of us in the area would try to assist you as much as we can.

Thoughts regarding Safety Speed and Noise issues from OPSRRA meeting November, 2017

[Editor: This initiative could start in the spring, 2018. More details and contact information will be posted later.]

Submitted by Neil Harvey and Carol Li

Carol and I are new to the Sooke/Otter Point area. We love this place. We were happy to attend the recent meeting and share thoughts and concerns with our new neighbours.

After a year here, we have some observations which appear to be shared by the OPSRRA community—most of whom have been here far longer than us.

Our proposal:

1. We form a group of residents who watch the road (Road Watch 14), similar to a Neighbourhood Watch program, to collect information on vehicular traffic to forward to the RCMP, Ministry, etc. who can decide if they want to develop new policies, run their own measurements or other.

We can measure:

  • Vehicle type (logging, gravel, motorcycle, camper etc…)
  • Vehicle speed (phone app called Speed Gun)
  • Vehicle volume
  • Time, day and direction
  • Noise level (phone app called Sound Meter)
  • Video for identification purposes (especially commercial)
  • We put up signs indicating that noise and speed bylaws are in effect and measured.

2. We form a plan to present the message to newspapers, websites, commercial trucking companies, motorcycle clubs and tourism BC websites.

A couple of questions first:

1. Are there enough people in this community who are concerned enough about these issues, and who have the energy needed to pursue possible solutions to these problems?
Is there a clear statement of the issues and a strong list of possible solutions?

2. Do we have the required connections to the right people who can make the solutions possible?

Two of the issues:

1. The posted speed limit of 80km starting at the east end of Gordon’s Beach and running out to Port Renfrew.
Speed limit changes are evaluated by the Ministry of Highways using various data including: traffic volume, traffic type; road geometrics; crash data; local development; shoulder condition; and pedestrian activity.
Roads are typically given a speed limit based on what is called a design limit. This takes into account factors such as road width, number and degree of horizontal curves and some others. I am not sure if BC uses an ‘Expert Knowledge-Based Speed Limit Setting System’ but perhaps we need to request one. I am getting this information from the following 2003 government document:

The problems with this stretch of road and speed limits:

  • It is narrow—especially when the size and width of vehicles is taken into consideration (e.g. logging and gravel trucks);
  • It has little or no shoulder;
  • It has many medium to sharp horizontal curves and many elevation changes;
  • It has seen significant increases in both commercial and private vehicle volumes;
  • Housing development has increased significantly along this corridor and looks to continue doing so;
  • Statistics show many accidents along this stretch of road;
  • No street lights at Otter Point Road and Kemp Lake Road intersections.

The proposal coming out of the OPSRRA meeting in November is to lower the speed limit along all or parts of this stretch of road. How much lower and in which sections remains for a provincial review to determine. What we need to do is find out how much local and regional support there is for this proposal. 

2. The second issue is noise along this same stretch of road. The CRD has a Noise Suppression Bylaw #3378.

Here is the general statement: 
No person shall make, cause to be made, or continue to make any noise or sound in the Electoral Area which creates a noise that disturbs or tends to disturb the quiet, peace, rest, enjoyment, comfort or convenience of the neighbourhood or of persons at or near the source of such noise or sound. 

Applying this bylaw requires that data collection and then notifying the appropriate authorities so they might do something about it.
This seems quite straightforward.

The question is: how much local and regional support there is for the application of this bylaw. The proposal coming out of the OPSRRA meeting was to find a way to monitor and record noise levels at certain points along the road. There is no mention in the bylaw of a specific noise threshold which might trigger the application of the bylaw so this would have to be developed.

Other safety issues along West Coast Road:

  • Street lighting at Kemp Lake Road and Otter Point Road intersections would improve visibility and safety.
  • Cars parking along the road with limited pull-off room.

Thanks for your time.

Tuesday, 7 November 2017

Volunteer Request: booth promoting OPSRRA at the Sooke Christmas Fair

Help promote OPSRRA at the Sooke Christmas Fair

Saturday, November 25, 2017
9:00 am to 4:00 pm 
Sooke Community Hall

We’re going to have a table promoting OPSRRA, as we did at Shirley Days.

We let people know what we’re doing, encourage them to join up, answer questions.

Even an hour of your time would be great.

Contact us:

Volunteer request: Community Bulletin Boards

Help with our community bulletin boards

OPSRRA has 28 community bulletin boards located next to Canada Post boxes in Otter Point.
The boards require regular maintenance and sometimes need replacement.

Our two volunteers need help with the following:

  • Board painter (boards brought in for repair).
  • Semi-annual tour of the sites -- cleaning and minor repairs.
  • Board replacement (includes post-hole digging).

We could also use donations of materials:

  • Scraps of plywood( ½ inch, 5/8 inch or ¾ inch) to form the sign core. Minimum size: 24 x 36 inches.
  • 4 x 4, 8-foot treated posts.
  • Post hole digger.
  • Green and brown exterior paint.

Call Arnie Campbell at 250-642-3113 or email