It’s been approved in Cumberland, and now the Car Free Initiative has the go-ahead in Courtenay.
During Tuesday’s meeting, council approved the Car Free Sunday event as long as a traffic management plan that is acceptable to the city’s director of operational services is submitted along with required insurance.
This means that, as long as those conditions are met, Sept. 25 from 1 to 5 p.m., temporary road closures will be permitted on Fitzgerald Avenue from Fifth Street to 26th Street, 26th Street from Fitzgerald Avenue to Willemar Avenue, Willemar Avenue from 26th Street to Fifth Street, and Fifth Street from Willemar Avenue to Cliffe Avenue.
The Fifth Street Bridge will remain open.
The road closures would affect about 40 intersections and hundreds of house and business accesses, Kevin Lagan, the city’s director of operational services, noted in his report to council.
“This is the first event of this type to be arranged in the city,” he wrote. “It is proposed for a Sunday; however, it is on roads which are primarily fronted by residential properties. In the information gathering process, the subject of traffic management was raised.
“We have received an initial response to the question asked, but further details are required. Access for residents and business users in vehicles will be severely restricted, and adequate provision needs to be made to accommodate those motorists.”
Two weeks ago, Andrew Gower made a presentation to council about the first-ever Car Free Sunday initiative being proposed by Imagine Comox Valley.
Gower is hoping to create loops that are closed to vehicular traffic for four hours on a Sunday afternoon in Courtenay, Comox and Cumberland.
Coun. Doug Hillian thought Gower’s proposal had merit.
“I was particularly impressed by the energy and enthusiasm of the young man himself,” he said. “I think it’s worthwhile to look at it.”
Coun. Larry Jangula, who voted against the event, had many concerns and told council he has received many e-mails from people who will be hemmed in by the closures.
“I’m not opposed to closing areas, but this is a huge, huge area,” he said, adding he was concerned about safety because there is no way to ensure a vehicle won’t use the road.
Coun. Murray Presley also voted against Car Free Sunday, noting residents won’t be allowed to drive away from their homes.
Lagan told council he also has some concerns, and he needs more questions answered.
“I have given a positive recommendation to council with the reservation that a traffic management plan be given to me and I’m happy with it,” he said. “We will bring something back if it comes to a situation where we can’t come to an agreement. We need to see a lot of details for this to work.”
Coun. Jon Ambler was supportive, although he raised a concern about people coming from out of town stumbling upon this and not knowing what’s happening.
“I think it’s a neat idea,” he said. “Given it’s seven weeks’ notice, I think residents can make alternate plans.”