Alberni Street area resident Doug Flesher has appealed to City of Powell River to lower the speed limit on the road to 30 kilometres per hour.
At the committee of the whole meeting on Tuesday, July 2, Flesher, who had delivered a petition to the city, said he and his neighbours understand Alberni Street is historically a gateway to the commercial areas of the city, but residents share a concern about speed and loud noise through the corridor.
“While there is a cautionary 40 kilometres per hour recommended speed for westbound traffic at the ‘S’ curve, very few on Alberni Street heed the warning,” said Flesher. “I actually believe a large percentage of our mostly young drivers see this section of residential roadway as a challenge to do not just 50 kilometres per hour, but when they get to the top, to put the pedal to the metal. I urge council to consider the wishes of the 38 resident voters, 71 per cent being 65 years or older, who signed the petition to lower the speed limit to 30 kilometres per hour.”
Mayor Dave Formosa said he had a recent committee meeting with city staff, elected officials and the police, and loud noise was a topic. He said the city does not have a decibel meter to precisely monitor noise, but the matter has been brought to the attention of the RCMP.
“I do think the chief was taking into consideration maybe they would start pulling people over and to ask people to show more respect on the noise side,” said Formosa. “The word will get around if people are getting pulled over for noise.”
Flesher said the main item of concern was speed on the road.
As far as the speed limits are concerned, Formosa said he spoke with city chief administrative officer Russell Brewer and the mayor was almost positive council had passed a resolution pertaining to all non-arterial roads, that the speed limits get dropped to 40 kilometres per hour throughout the city.
Formosa said there is also an initiative to drop speeds to 30 kilometres per hour in the Cranberry Street and Manson Avenue corridor. He also said he thinks council came to the conclusion that drivers do not need to be going 50 kilometres per hour down side roads.
Brewer said that roughly two years ago, staff received direction to include the 40 kilometres per hour initiative in the traffic bylaw update, which is still being worked upon.
Councillor CaroleAnn Leishman said she would like clarification on whether an arterial road such as Alberni Street would be included in the 40 kilometres per hour initiative. She said she did not know whether the city had to have standards of speed that have to be different on municipal arterial routes than on side roads.
Director of infrastructure Tor Birtig said the Motor Vehicle Actstates that if a speed limit is not posted, the default speed is 50 kilometres per hour.
“What we are awaiting is the cities of Vancouver and Victoria have both done some pilot programs with respect to that,” said Birtig. “We are also hearing from the province they may impose, instead of the 50 kilometres per hour default speed limit, it would go down to 30 kilometres per hour.”
With respect to arterial routes, Birtig said he expects 50 kilometres per hour would not change unless council wants to impose lower speed limits on those roadways.
On Alberni Street, with regard to ICBC accident statistics, in the last four years there have been 110 incidents, with the majority at the Joyce Avenue and Marine Avenue intersections, according to Birtig. In around Michigan, Harvie and Harwood avenues, he believes there were three accidents in that time span. He said it is normally a case of turning too sharp, or in one incident where somebody stopped for a deer and got clipped.
Councillor George Doubt outlined the initiative in Vancouver to reduce traffic speeds. He said he thinks it started with a councillor petitioning the provincial government to change the rules for traffic speed. What he was asking to do was decrease the speed limit on side roads from 50 down to 30 kilometres per hour.
“That’s a good idea,” said Doubt. “It will be interesting to see if the provincial government decides to do that, but that won’t change anything in Powell River for today.”
Doubt said it was a good idea to refer the issue to staff for when they come back to council with a review of the traffic bylaw.
Councillor Jim Palm asked where the city was with its speed readout apparatus, which displays car velocity to passing motorists.
Councillor Maggie Hathaway said there had been concerns about the sign being vandalized but she doubted that would be a problem in Powell River.
“Alberni would be a perfect spot,” she said.
Formosa said the machine is effective, and people slow down when the see the sign.
“When we bring one of these things it flashes and people think there is radar or a police officer there and they slow right down,” said Formosa. “Let’s set it up as a standalone, put it out on the street, bind it to a pole, leave it out for a week and move it around like we intended to do. Let’s take control of it ourselves. It’s brand new and never been used.”
Flesher’s petition will be forwarded to staff to be part of the city traffic bylaw review.