Car Free Sunday review generally positive in Courtenay

An evaluation of the first Car Free Sunday in Courtenay has come back positive — with a few lessons that can be learned.

An evaluation of the first Car Free Sunday in Courtenay has come back positive — with a few lessons that can be learned.

Council received a report from operational services director Kevin Lagan and environmental planner Nancy Hofer evaluating Car Free Sunday, a new event that closed several streets to vehicular traffic for four hours on Sept. 25.

In supporting the event, council had requested that the proponents of Car Free Sunday provide an evaluation of the event so council could use a measure of objectivity in assessing its success.

The report includes “lessons learned” and identifies signage, communications and planning timeframe as areas that could be improved. More signage and more barricades placed at the entrance to roads were recommended.

“The greatest irritation reported by motorists among volunteer traffic controllers was that the motorist would have to backtrack and re-route,” noted the report. “More and bigger road closure signage could help alleviate this concern in the future, coupled with more advanced notice in the media.”

Notification letters were hand-delivered to all residents and businesses along the route, but streets running perpendicular to the Car Free route did not receive any special notifications, and City staff recommends that hand-delivered letters be delivered to streets running perpendicular to the route in the future.

City staff recommends at least a six-month planning time frame for future organizers of similar events and to arrange the appropriate approvals through council and staff.

Three hundred and fifty participants were recorded on a single sweep from 3 to 3:30 p.m., but organizers figure the numbers were higher given that people would have been steadily entering and leaving the event throughout the day.

More than 20 community groups and a dozen businesses participated in Car Free Sunday.

The report notes that the general comment from the president of the Downtown Courtenay Business Improvement Association was that the event was perceived as “positive” but that more advance notice will be required for future similar events. It also notes that community groups enjoyed participating.

The RCMP received one complaint that a vehicle went through the blockade at McPhee Avenue and 14th Street and was driving fast.

Hofer received four calls before the event, and all four expressed concern and did not support Car Free Sunday, according to the report.

“In looking at the results of the surveys, from the volunteer input, it’s generally very positive coverage,” planning services director Peter Crawford told council. “I think it was generally received well.

“One of the items that’s certainly suggested is giving a little more lead time to this.”

Councillors appreciated receiving the feedback about the event.

While she was at Car Free Sunday, two things stood out for Coun. Ronna-Rae Leonard.

“One thing was the children that were on the streets on their bikes,” she said. “I realized that for most of us growing up, it was an opportunity that nobody thought about; your parents sent you off, and you were on your bike and you were safe.

“Most kids today in an urban environment don’t have that experience so they never have a sense of ownership of the road, that they have a right to be there as well. There were a lot of kids out there learning more about the rules of the road; it was, I think, a good step forward.”

The second thing that Leonard noticed was that Fitzgerald Avenue was quiet.

“For all the folks living on Fitzgerald, for the first time, they weren’t listening to the roar of traffic for four hours and all they heard was kids laughing and people chatting,” she said.

Coun. Jon Ambler was pleased to see the DCBIA thought the event was good for their business.

“If this thing had been bad for their business, that would have been a tremendously telling blow against it and against ever doing it again in the future,” he said. “But it’s been my experience in other communities where I’ve lived that if you can create an environment where the people will come out into the streets, you have a totally different atmosphere, and it’s a positive atmosphere, and there’s a sense of community, and it’s one we enjoy like on Canada Day on Fifth Street.”

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Christmas will look a bit different in Cumberland this year, not only because of COVID restrictions but due to changes from BC Hydro about hanging decorations on the poles. Record file photo
Snowflakes a no-go for Cumberland’s power poles

Village, business association looking to promote shopping local for holidays

The Trenton Golden Hawks are changing their name and uniform for one game on Nov. 27 as they become the Trenton Snowbirds for one game to honour Capt. Jennifer Casey. Twitter photo
Hockey team honouring fallen Snowbird with Comox Valley connection

The Trenton Golden Hawks will become the Trenton Snowbirds for one game

A late-blooming Welsh poppy gave the Cox garden some unexpected colour last month. Photo by Leslie Cox
DUCHESS OF DIRT: La Nina signs not necessarily steeped in science

LESLIE COX Special to The Record I am beginning to think climate… Continue reading

The suspect is described as approximately 20-25 years old, between 5’3 to 5’4, with dark hair. He was wearing black Adidas pants, white shoes, and a puffy grey jacket. Photo supplied
Attempted robbery in Courtenay

Investigators from the Comox Valley RCMP Major Crime Unit are investigating

The Fifth Street Bridge requires structural improvements, new coating to repair and prevent corrosion, and deck repairs. File photo
Fifth Street Bridge repairs to proceed in Courtenay

The unofficial results are in for the Fifth Street Bridge Rehabilitation Alternative… Continue reading

Provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry updates B.C.’s COVID-19 situation at the B.C. legislature, Nov. 23, 2020. (B.C. government)
B.C. daily COVID-19 cases hits record 941 on Tuesday

Further restrictions on indoor exercise take effect

Cannabis bought in British Columbia (Ashley Wadhwani/Black Press Media)
Is it time to start thinking about greener ways to package cannabis?

Packaging suppliers are still figuring eco-friendly and affordable packaging options that fit the mandates of Cannabis Regulations

Join Black Press Media and Do Some Good
Join Black Press Media and Do Some Good

Pay it Forward program supports local businesses in their community giving

Krista Macinnis displays the homework assignment that her Grade 6 daughter received on Tuesday. (Submitted photo)
B.C. mom angry that students asked to list positive stories about residential schools

Daughter’s Grade 6 class asked to write down 5 positive stories or facts

B.C. projects targeting the restoration of sockeye salmon stocks in the Fraser and Columbia Watersheds will share in $10.9 million of federal funding to protect species at risk. (Kenny Regan photo)
13 projects protecting B.C. aquatic species at risk receive $11 million in federal funding

Salmon and marine mammals expected to benefit from ecosystem-based approach

Picture of two swans leaving the Cowichan estuary moments before one was shot out of the sky. (Submitted photo)
Petition to stop hunting in Cowichan estuary after swan shot

Hunters blame shooting on illegal poachers

Bob Higgins pulls the gate across on the elevator built inside his home. (Photo by Don Bodger)
Island man’s expertise earns international award with home-built elevator

Experience put to use in winning contest entry for furniture and home projects

Barrels pictured outside Oliver winery, Quinta Ferreira, in May. (Phil McLachlan - Black Press Media)
B.C. Master of Wine reflects on industry’s teetering economic state

Pandemic, for some wine makers, has been a blessing in disguise. For others, not so much.

A fentanyl test strip is used at Vancouver Coastal Health in Vancouver, Tuesday, January, 21, 2020. The test strips will be made available to drug users to ensure that their drugs are safe and free of Fentanyl. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward
Drug overdoses lead to 5 deaths each day in October; drug toxicity continues to increase

COVID-19 crisis continues to exacerbate the overdose crisis

Most Read