The new four-way stop installed at the Parksville intersection where a child was struck and injured by a vehicle last year will stay in place for now.
Council voted last month to have the signs put in at Despard Avenue and Moilliet Street as an interim solution, despite a four-way stop not being one of the options recommended in the intersection review done by the city’s acting director of engineering, Joe Doxey.
School District 69’s board chair sent a letter to council in late April, requesting the city move ahead as quickly as possible with option four from the report. That option includes replacement of the intersection’s single centre lines with double solid lines, a realigned crosswalk with sidewalk letdowns, pedestrian activated flashing lights and a design to improve motorists’ recognition that the north leg is meant for access to Trillium Lodge and Oceanside Health Centre.
The motion by Coun. Doug O’Brien to replace the four-way stop with option four from the review was defeated following a lengthy debate at council’s May 17 meeting.
“We’re not qualified to make a judgement, an assessment of what is a satisfactory traffic calming situation,” said O’Brien.
“Why would we hire a traffic consultant and pay him good money — taxpayer’s money, to come up with recommendations to calm the traffic there, to make it safer if we’re just going to take that traffic study, ignore it all and say, ‘let’s put in a four-way stop sign because I think that’s a good idea.’”
Doxey’s review found implementing option four would require raising the engineering operations safe routes to school budget by $77,500.
Mayor Ed Mayne said he does not think enough time has passed to know if the signs are effective. The signs were installed on May 4, according to the city’s chief administrative officer, Keeva Kehler. Mayne pointed out council’s plan is to see how the new measure affects traffic over the remainder of the school year and the summer.
“The ask for us was to slow traffic down. That’s what the school board originally asked us to do,” he said. “That traffic right now with the four-way stop couldn’t get any slower, otherwise it would be at a dead stop.”
Coun. Teresa Patterson said council had a knee-jerk reaction when it voted to install the four-way stop. She added she is concerned about traffic calming in the city.
“We have traffic studies for each development, but as an overall, I think it’s lacking. I feel that when a development comes forward, [the traffic study] is just looking at its development and looking at putting another 100–200 vehicles on the road,” she said.
O’Brien’s motion was defeated 4–3, with himself, Patterson and Coun. Marilyn Wilson in favour.
The city began a safety review of the intersection last fall after it received two emails about student safety concerns. The review was almost complete when a Springwood Elementary School student was hit by a vehicle in November. The city said it was told by RCMP the cause of the accident was driver inattention.