Residents along North Shore Road are becoming increasingly concerned about the speed of vehicles passing through their area.
Lorne Scheffer is one of the residents who has had enough and has decided he will approach town council to see if anything can be done.
Last week, Scheffer’s son Brendan, who is nine-years-old, walked home from Palsson Elementary for the first time.
“I’d been driving my son to school and picking him up,” said Scheffer.
When Brendan got home, “he was shaking and crying,” said Scheffer. “He was terrified.”
A truck had brushed the youth, almost hitting him.
As Scheffer sees it, there are three factors contributing to the dangerous conditions on North Shore Road.
The first is the speed of vehicles. He says he often sees vehicles doing 80 or 90 kilometres per hour.
“If someone sat and patrolled the road for any length of time, they would see this happens on a regular basis.”
The other is the volume of traffic. “The volume is staggering,” said Scheffer. He says that along with regular vehicles, there are many industrial vehicles including Johel Bros Contracting trucks and others, using the road on a regular basis.
The third is the fact that there is not a lot of pedestrian room on either side of the road, and no sidewalks.
“There is nowhere for pedestrians to walk,” said Scheffer. “It shouldn’t take a child being seriously injured or killed to make something happen.”
Scheffer is not the only concerned resident along the road.
Lisa Barnes, also a North Shore Road resident, has approached council a couple of times expressing her concern about the speeds along the road as well as the heavy volume of industrial traffic.
At the finance and administration meeting on Aug. 21, Barnes told council she would like to see the speed limit along North Shore Road reduced from 50 to 40 km/hour.
One of her concerns is the cross walk used by children going to and from Palsson Elementary, and the fact that visibility of this cross walk is limited for drivers, especially if they are exceeding 40 km/hour.
Another concern is the general lack of visibility on the road due to its many twists and turns, especially on the Lake Cowichan end near the boat launch.
“The heavy concrete truck traffic that use it (North Shore Road) causes unnecessary wear and tear,” said Barnes. “And particularly the empty dump trucks . . . make a horrendous noise.”
Barnes feels that the noise caused by these industrial vehicles shows some disrespect to the residents of North Shore Road, saying that even on holidays they begin work at about 6:30 a.m.
“I feel that they could be asked to use Highway 18. It doesn’t take any longer. I don’t understand why the excessive use of North Shore Road,” said Barnes. “So I’m asking council to help the residents of North Shore Road improve their quality of life. It has the potential to save lives.”
At the time, council responded to Barnes saying that they have no right to discriminate against vehicles that use North Shore Road, and stated that the Y intersection at Highway 18 and the Youbou Highway is substandard and has been highlighted in the town’s traffic report because of the grade of its lean. The responsibility lies in the hands of the Ministry of Transportation and Infrastructure and Lake Cowichan superintendent of public works, Nagi Rizk, said the matter of dealing with the intersection is being looked into.
“They were asking if we had the kindness to provide them with the previous survey that we did . . . so I just took it upon myself to provide them with some of the information,” said Rizk.
“There has been considerable work done on realigning that Y,” added Coun. McGonigle. “Unfortunately the Ministry of Transportation and ourselves did not come to a conclusion on that, basically for funding purposes.”
One option the town will be acting on will be to take away the sign that directs traffic to Youbou at the South Shore Road and North Shore Road intersection as part of the South Shore Road upgrades. McGonigle explained that the traffic slowing measures that are being implemented on South Shore Road are in conjunction with the Ministry of Transportation and Infrastructure deciding to pave South Shore Road.
“I’m sure that if and when there is some similar improvements to North Shore, we would look at, as a group, something similar to that effect,” said McGonigle. “The scope of that project would probably be similar in financial contributions. So it’s a matter of trying to find the funds for all the projects that we are trying to do.”
Cpl. Olson of the Lake Cowichan RCMP says that they have had the odd call from residents along North Shore Road, but nothing out of the ordinary.
“We have done patrols, and we are keeping an eye on that area,” said Olson.
He says that reducing the speed limit in the area will work for those who want to obey those speeds.
“But others are going to go 20 kms over instead of 10, that’s what’s going to happen. They’re going to fly into the radar and people will start to get a lot of tickets.”
He does agree that the road is narrow and that people need to remember to slow down, especially now that kids are walking to and from school during the week.
“Safety wise, 40 would be better than 50,” said Olson.
Mayor and council decided to bring this matter up at the next public works meeting, and in the meantime, Scheffer plans to address council with his concerns.
“My child’s safety is at risk,” said Scheffer. “I don’t feel safe, that was a close call.”
He adds that he and his family really hope to generate public awareness about this issue and that people slow down when driving along North Shore Road.