Parksville council will consult more with school district before deciding on intersection changes

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There will be no immediate changes to a Parksville intersection where a child was hit by a vehicle last year, after city council decided to delay the issue until the fall.

City staff presented four options to improve the operation of the intersection of Despard Avenue and Moilliet Street. The recommendations are based on the city’s traffic safety review of the area, which found no clearly defined problems at the intersection.

“I believe this is going to be a super busy intersection — with kids, not as much traffic,” said Coun. Doug O’Brien, citing an increase in housing in the area near Springwood Elementary School.

The safety review was initiated following several emails expressing concern about the intersection. The accident happened while city staff was conducting traffic counts and observing the area at certain key times, according to Joe Doxey, acting director of engineering for the city. 

The most basic option was to reinforce lane markings to discourage drivers from passing people trying to turn left. Another suggestion included moving the crosswalk slightly away from the corner to improve visibility. City staff observed vehicles rolling slightly past the stop sign before fully stopping, said Doxey, and moving the crosswalk a small distance in from the corner could improve safety. 

Another staff suggestion was adding a flashing beacon at the crosswalk, which would be triggered by pressing a button and would improve visibility, according to Doxey. 

The final option presented by staff was to convert the access to Trillium Lodge to make it more apparent that it is a private access to the lodge and not a good place to drop off and pick up school children. Three of the four options would require an increase in funding from the current $25,000 in the Safe Routes to School Budget.

Mayor Ed Mayne said the 1,900 vehicles driving down Despard each day does not warrant any of the staff recommendations and instead suggested a four-way stop sign. He added there is increased traffic during the times when children are dropped off and picked up, but otherwise the street is quiet. 

“In five years there have been four accidents — that’s including the unfortunate one where the child was hurt just recently,” said Mayne. “All of the methods to make it safer would have been for nought for all of these accidents.” He added the cause of the most recent collision was deemed to be driver inattention.

The intersection does not meet the criteria for a four-way stop sign, according to Doxey, because the traffic flow is heavy in one direction. 

Coun. Teresa Patterson made a motion to defer the option to the fall so council could hear more input from school district representatives. It passed with only Coun. Al Greir opposed.

“I’ve heard the Safe Routes to School and everything quite a bit around the table and I think that needs to be addressed and focused on primarily before we move forward with any of the recommendations,” she said. City staff will meet with the school board in April.

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