Access at proposed Thrifty Foods store in Courtenay hot issue for neighbours

A proposed access onto Bristol Way leading into a residential neighbourhood was a hot topic during a public information meeting for the proposed Thrifty Foods development in Crown Isle.

Architect Barry Weih of Wensley Architecture makes a presentation.

Architect Barry Weih of Wensley Architecture makes a presentation.

A proposed access onto Bristol Way leading into a residential neighbourhood was a hot topic during a public information meeting for the proposed Thrifty Foods development in Crown Isle.About 180 people attended the meeting Wednesday night at the Florence Filberg Centre.Architect Barry Weih of Wensley Architecture Ltd. spoke on behalf of the developer, while acoustic engineer Doug Kennedy of DKL was there to provide information about sound attenuation measures.The main shopping centre, which would include Thrifty Foods, is planned for the back of the site, and along the street edge, the developers have created a series of smaller buildings.The developers have worked with traffic consultants and the Ministry of Transportation on access points, and there will be three accesses — a signalized intersection on Lerwick Road, which Weih expects to be the main entrance; a right-in, right-out on Lerwick; and a right-in, right-out, left-in on Ryan Road.All trucks for the site would come in off Ryan Road, circulate through the site down a one-way road to the back of the site and come back out onto Lerwick, according to Weih.”Bristol Way I know is a little controversial,” he said to some snickering in the crowd.”Bristol Way was brought to our attention as a requested exit by the Crown Isle team,” he said. “This is an access they thought would be an advantage to the community, a convenience for local residents to be able to come to the shopping centre without having to go onto Ryan Road. It is intended to be a convenience for residents; that is its sole purpose.”We have designed it to have a traffic control median in the centre so a truck cannot go on that road. That’s how we have taken into account the concerns about having loading vehicles come onto Bristol Way.”Crown Isle received a petition signed by 320 residents citing their opposition to the proposed access route on Bristol Way.This proposed access fits into Crown Isle’s Master Planned Community.There is now a Low Speed Vehicle (LSV) on the market that is legal to drive on roadways with a posted speed limit of 40 kilometres per hour or less, and Crown Isle has applied to the city to become an LSV community, which means the current speed limit within Crown Isle would be changed from 50 kilometres per hour to 40, Crown Isle director Ron Coulson explained in a letter to property owners.”Of particular importance is that if we do become a LSV community, then our vision of offering our residents LSV access to golf, dining, shopping and other amenities right in their own neighbourhood will finally become a reality,” he wrote. “However, this will not be a realistic option if the internal access is not allowed, as LSVs will not be permitted on Ryan and Lerwick roads due to the posted speed limits.”To much cheering, Mike Finneron suggested a five-foot-wide access road, which would provide room for golf carts, LSVs, bicycles and pedestrians but not cars, as a compromise.He raised concerns about increased traffic at all hours with the Thrifty Foods and other developments that would occur on that property.”There is no other commercial development in the Valley that empties into a residential area, and we don’t think this one should,” he said.John Gadbsy told Weih he thought the project design was reversed, and the high-traffic Thrifty Foods store should be closer to Ryan and Lerwick, with the smaller buildings closer to the residences.”I think you’ve got the design the wrong way around,” he said. “I think you’d do better for your client if you put Thrifty Foods near Lerwick.”A number of residents raised concerns about increased traffic and increased noise from the commercial activity.”We are a peaceful, quiet residential community that does not need more traffic,” said one woman. Not everyone spoke against the access route on Bristol Way.One man who lives on Crown Isle Drive said he’d spoken to 15 or 20 of his neighbours in the past week, and they were all supportive of having vehicle access on Bristol Way.A number of people said a stoplight is needed at Malahat Drive and Lerwick Road.Courtenay council is expected to make a decision on the development application in June.writer@comoxvalleyrecord.com