Residents in a part of the Old Orchard area continue to push for traffic-calming measures from the City of Courtenay.
Courtenay council voted to conduct a traffic study around Harmston Avenue and Fourth Street and solicit input from the Old Orchard Traffic Calming Committee after it received a second petition from area residents this week.
“We would do our own review of it to ensure that the numbers of traffic, volumes, turning movements, through-traffic, meets the criteria for traffic calming measures,” City director of operational services Kevin Lagan told council during his verbal report Monday. “We have certain criteria, mandates and other things to meet to ensure that we can bring a project forward.”
Council first received a petition earlier this fall, which was signed by 18 residents representing 10 area properties, and requested Johnston Avenue between Fourth and Fifth streets be closed to outside traffic. Safety concerns were noted and the petition was referred to staff to investigate.
Past Courtenay councillor and current Comox Valley MLA Don McRae and his wife make up two signatures on the petition, and City CAO Sandy Gray and his wife make up another two. Gray was not present during council discussion to avoid a conflict of interest.
Since the first petition, Peter Gerritsen, who was the petition initiator, hired McElhanney Engineering to conduct a traffic study, which noted the Courtenay Fire Department was not in favour of closing to street due to accessibility concerns.
The second petition came before council this week, which included an endorsement of McEllhanney Engineering’s recommendation to partially close Fourth Street to prevent vehicles from heading west on Fourth Street to Johnston Avenue. The petition suggested a barricade and signage to achieve this.
According to Lagan’s report, the proposed barriers would cost about $3,000. The report also listed low-profile corner bulbs as an alternative which would cost $10,000 to $20,000.
Coun. Jon Ambler noted he doesn’t know the area that well so he walked around there before Monday’s council meeting. He was unsure whether the traffic calming measures should be implemented and said he wants to see a traffic study done by City staff.
“How are their needs of a higher profile than any other street or any other neighbourhood? Everybody has cars that go up and down their streets,” said Ambler.
Coun. Starr Winchester said she hears Ambler’s concern but said there’s a “considerable” amount of traffic on Johnston Avenue and it’s a narrow road. She suggested that traffic should be going down a road designed to handle more traffic, like Fifth Street.
Coun. Bill Anglin said he walked in the area and noted the traffic didn’t seem excessive in speed or volume. He pointed out the study included in the report to council didn’t have hard numbers like how long the area was monitored or how many cars went through it.
Lagan noted the City’s traffic study will cost at least $1,000, will measure things like traffic speed and volume, and the results will come back before council in the New Year.
traffic calming measures often come about after complaints from area residents.