When you drive through “downtown” Merville, 12 kilometres north of Courtenay, you are taking your life in your own hands. Not because of wild elderly hippies or cowboys running amok, roping the last outdoor telephone booth on Highway 19 (true!), or stray livestock. No, the threat is from the other drivers speeding past, making the most of the 80 km/h speed limit. More like 90, since everyone drives a bit over.
Farther up the road is Black Creek, where the speed limit is lowered to a more sensible 60 km/h for a ways before and after the store. But here, we also have the store and gas pumps and post office on one side, an RV sales on the other side with huge highway yachts turning left and right, also a farm market and a community hall (where there was a recent fatality) not to mention all the residential, commercial and industrial traffic from the bucolic countryside around the village centre. Gravel trucks, logging trucks, pickups with long horse trailers, tourists from Alberta, and, shudder, mainlanders with wads of cash looking for real estate and a bus stop.
I asked one of our local politicians if we could lower the speed limit. He said we would first have to get a traffic flow study and intersection survey done. Maybe by 2020. Sigh. Then he admitted the only person in the highways ministry who approves speed limit changes is near retirement and is reluctant to take on any additional work. While I find this unlikely, there is something about provincial bureaucracy that unfortunately makes it believable.
So I invite MLA Claire Trevena, Minister of Highways, and MLA Ronna Rae Leonard to come with me to the Merville Café overlooking the highway to have a coffee and watch the traffic whiz past. I will buy.