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City of Powell River councillors hear safe streets concerns

Proposed project in Townsite prompts residents to write about unease
LETTERS RECEIVED: City of Powell River’s committee of the whole received correspondence expressing concerns about a proposed safe streets project along the Sycamore Street and Maple Avenue corridor in Townsite. Three public meetings have been set up in April for the public to provide input to the city regarding the proposed project.

City of Powell River councillors received two letters expressing concerns about the Maple and Sycamore safe streets project, and councillors encouraged residents to attend engagement sessions seeking information from the public.

At the March 14 committee of the whole meeting, councillor Rob Southcott said a letter before the committee from resident Gary O’Brien was representative of many that have been received. Southcott said he has read all the letters and recognized something in common in a lot of the correspondence, and that is fear.

“I see fear of loss of parking and I think that’s highly valid,” said Southcott. “I also see fear that council and the city are not hearing or paying attention. That, I don’t see as valid.

“I want to reiterate that the project in Townsite is based on our official community plan (OCP) as it stands. That OCP has been created as a multigenerational document by this community, not just this council or city staff.”

Southcott said it is his belief that the city’s leadership is trustworthy in process and he is also committed to the community as a whole working together. He said he appreciates the letters on the topic and would like to move that the letter from O’Brien is received and filed.

Councillor Cindy Elliott said she wanted to thank everyone who sends letters and wanted to assure people that the letters are heard. She said since a decision on the Maple and Sycamore safe streets project is pending, and councillors are looking to see what staff brings back to address concerns from the public, it’s helpful to know what people are thinking.

“When a final plan comes back, I’m hoping it addresses almost every concern that people have,” said Elliott.

Councillor Trina Isakson said she wanted to remind people of the in-person engagements planned for three sections of the streets, coming up on April 11 and 12.

“I know it’s being promoted through the city,” said Isakson.

She said on April 11 at Dwight Hall, between 2 and 4 pm, a session for Sycamore Street residents from Arbutus Avenue to Aspen Avenue has been planned, and a session for Maple Avenue residents, from Aspen Avenue to Elm Street, will be from 6:30 to 8:30 pm.

On April 12, there will be a session for Maple Avenue residents from Elm Street to Hemlock Street, from 6:30 to 8:30 pm, at Dwight Hall. Isakson requested that people who can’t make the sessions continue to share their input to mayor and council through mechanisms such as correspondence.

“I look forward to attending as many of those meetings as I can and seeing what happens,” said Isakson.

Councillor Jim Palm, chair of the committee, said he encourages residents of Sycamore and Maple to write in.

“We like to hear directly from residents who will be impacted by this development,” said Palm. “I encourage all residents in that area to attend the meetings because your voice matters. We are listening to you.

“These letters are read by all of us and our staff will do a thorough job of consultation. I encourage all of council to go to all three meetings to hear directly from the residents.”

Palm said to councillors that if they have not walked that area, they should.

“Once you are there and go down those streets, there is something very clear that will materialize in terms of safety,” added Palm.

The committee moved to receive and file the correspondence from O’Brien. A second letter of concern was received from Arthur Richards, which was also received by the committee.

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