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City of Powell River Council approves expenditure on speed signs

Councillors endeavour to slow down traffic with pole-mounted displays
SAFER STREETS: City of Powell River council has voted unanimously in favour of buying four more speed display signs to try and slow down traffic in city limits.

City council has approved a $17,480 expenditure to purchase four pole-mounted speed display signs to help reduce speeding in the city.

At a meeting on July 21, councillor Jim Palm said the recommendation came out of a survey conducted into speed limits and safer streets.

“It’s good that our staff took it upon themselves to do a survey within our community, because all of us are concerned about safety on our streets,” said Palm. “The results of the survey are quite evident in terms of what the public is endorsing.

“For example, for a question on the blanket speed limit of 40 km/h throughout the community, 91.1 per cent of the respondents said no. For a speed reduction pilot, 77.2 per cent said no, and 81 per cent said speed limits should remain the same.

“In terms of our major arteries, for Alberni Street, 84 per cent said remain the same, Duncan Street, 86 per cent remain the same, Joyce Avenue, it was 86 per cent remain the same, and Manson Avenue, it was 85 per cent remain the same.”

Palm said the only one up for debate is Marine Avenue between Duncan and Alberni streets, where only 60 per cent said it should remain the same as it is now.

Councillor Maggie Hathaway said she was “quite surprised” at the outcome of the survey because she thought it would come back saying something completely different.

“I’m happy to support this motion,” said Hathaway. “Those speed signs, I know how well they work for me. I think they are very effective and staff have taken it upon themselves to create a program where the signs rotate around the community. They are working well and I’m happy to have some more put out there.”

She said in terms of survey results, she was surprised 60 per cent of respondents suggested speed limits on Marine Avenue remain the same because it really is a bottleneck.

“All we can do is ask people to please slow down,” said Hathaway. “The crosswalks are hidden and it’s a very narrow area.”

Councillor Cindy Elliott said she also supports the speed display signs purchase.

“I was a little disappointed in the wording of the survey because it seemed to focus on the opposite of what we were trying to figure out,” said Elliott. “I don’t actually feel the survey asked the right questions.”

Mayor Dave Formosa said councillors, city officials and the RCMP have worked hard on the matter of road safety.

“I was ecstatic when the chief administrative officer [Russell Brewer] came to the conclusion that we needed to get more of these signs,” said Formosa. “We get phone calls into our office from neighbourhoods asking to get on the list. They know we have this technology, and it works, so it’s a great program.”

As for the survey, Formosa said the number of responses was high, with more than 1,000 people leaving opinions. He said he agreed with Elliott, and that one question the city tried to ask was regarding reducing the speed limits on non-arterial roads.

“You don’t need to go 50 km/h along Hemlock Street,” said Formosa. “That’s the piece we missed. We asked if people wanted a blanket. I like Joyce and Marine to be what it is.

“What I thought we were targeting was the non-arterial side roads where the kids are playing. That’s the sad piece of this. I don’t know how the next council wants to deal with that, and I think it’s worthy to have a look at the side road issue within the city, but I’m happy to endorse the recommendation for signs.”

Councillor George Doubt said he did not think this was the end of the story. He said he knows city planning staff members are working with people in Townsite on studies of traffic in that area, and looking at various options for calming, trying to slow traffic around some non-arterial streets.

“It will be safer if the traffic is slower,” said Doubt. “It doesn’t take much longer to travel three blocks on Maple Avenue at 30 km/h than it does at 50 km/h. It could save a life.”

Council voted unanimously in favour of spending on the signs.