Townsite Ratepayers Association has called for a speed limit reduction on Maple Avenue to 30 km/h.
At the City of Powell River committee of the whole meeting on February 1, ratepayers president Will Van Delft appeared before councillors to outline his concern.
Van Delft said now that access from Townsite via the Willingdon Beach trail has been blocked, an alternate mid-elevation route via Maple Avenue and the pole line is an excellent connectivity route to the hospital, Powell River Recreation Complex and shopping centres.
“Our ask for you is to address safety concerns by reducing the speed limit on Maple Avenue to 30 km/h as soon as possible to allow residents to change their driving habits,” said Van Delft. “This needs to be followed up with appropriate calming devices to promote pedestrian and cyclist use.”
Van Delft said he had participated in the speed limit survey on the city’s participatepr.ca site.
“Surprisingly, there is no mention of anything relating to the cycling strategy,” said Van Delft. “Designated cycling streets such as Joyce Avenue and Maple Avenue are not even mentioned. This is very confusing in the survey and I wish whoever put it together could coordinate that. It would be clearer to those of us who are wanting to be involved in that.”
Van Delft also said the association was pleased to see the suggestion of a hard surface trail connecting Brooks Secondary School and the recreation complex has been favourably received.
“Critical for the success of this bicycle network strategy is to encourage our school youth to make use of this opportunity,” said Van Delft. “We have presented this project to the school district and our youth council.”
Van Delft said for those who want to cycle into Townsite, it’s difficult, because cyclists can’t use the Willingdon Beach trail anymore and the other way is to go up the hill and along Manson Avenue.
“That mid-elevation route is really critical and a hard surface trail along the edge of the pole line would be an excellent opportunity,” said Van Delft.
Street lighting request
He said there was a second ask for the streetscaping project for Townsite. Through Powell River Community Forest, $103,000 was awarded to install street lighting on Ash Street, he added.
“We’d like to approach the gaming commission for matching funding to include Walnut Avenue into our project,” said Van Delft. “We need to receive a letter of permission from city hall to approve this project on city property. We also ask that you approve a small contract to complete a schematic construction drawing for Ash Street and Walnut Avenue.
“It’s my understanding that a contract has already been let to do exactly that so we look forward to seeing it being completed.”
Van Delft said councillors will notice the “real estate madness” that has engulfed the industry this past year. He said very recently, a house on Maple Avenue sold for $700,000 and it didn’t have a proper foundation.
“For a house that 10 years ago was worth $150,000, to see it now at $700,000 tells us something about the madness that is going on,” said Van Delft. “Townsite historic district is a very key attractant to people from out of town. We are seeing that pressure every day as people are stopping to look at our houses and ask us if we want to move.
“This is a slight nudge that we could move ahead to create a heritage commission for Townsite. It will be a process that is well worthwhile in the face of what is going on right now.”
Committee chair councillor CaroleAnn Leishman said regarding the participatepr.ca survey, perhaps some adjustments can be made.
Councillor Cindy Elliott said with regard to the heritage commission for Townsite, she believes that pre-pandemic, there were meetings and a process was being undertaken. She requested a staff update.
Chief administrative officer Russell Brewer said that was part of the work the city’s planning staff is doing in conjunction with a housing needs assessment, and it will be incorporated in the housing strategy that is being undertaken. Brewer said there would be an update in the next strategic plan update because there is an action item associated with that.
Councillor George Doubt said he had undertaken the survey at participatepr.ca about speed limit changes and Joyce Avenue and Alberni and Duncan streets were specifically on the survey he filled out, regarding whether to leave those at 50 km/h, or to go to a lesser speed.
“I encourage everyone to go there and participate and get their ideas in there because what we have heard from the minister of municipalities is we need to get public opinion surveyed so we understand what everyone in town wants and how they want the different streets done,” said Doubt. “Possibly, we can do a blanket speed limit reduction for the entire municipality, putting signs at each end of the city saying this is the speed limit for the town.”
Doubt said he agrees with trying to protect Townsite with an extra level of regulations to make sure heritage buildings are protected more than they are now.
“With the price of property going up, there’s temptation for people to pay big dollars for an old house and tear it down and then build something brand new and fresh that looks like a house in Langley,” said Doubt. “Townsite deserves to be protected.”
Leishman said there are minimal protections now but the city could establish a lot more.