Solution needed to traffic volume and noise: North Shore Road needs pedestrian walkways past River Road

North Shore Road residents are not giving up on their quest to find some solution to the traffic volume and noise

North Shore Road residents are not giving up on their quest to find some solution to the traffic volume and noise they have been living with.

Lisa Barnes and Lorne Scheffer approached mayor and council as two separate delegations, but having a common thread: North Shore Road.

Barnes was again bringing to the attention of council the heavy truck use and noise levels on the road and Scheffer wanted to voice his concerns with traffic volume and speed resulting in unsafe conditions for pedestrians.

“I still have concerns about the weight of the heavy trucks that are using North Shore Road and the damage that’s being done to the road, on top of the noise,” said Barnes.

She acknowledged the traffic calming that has begun starting at Tim Hortons and the concrete barriers that alert traffic to the corners before the weir.

“I’m still strongly advocating that the speed limit be reduced,” said Barnes, “and I’m hoping this would discourage heavy trucks from using the road.”

She would like to see the speed limit reduced from 50 kilometres to 40 km. In her last meeting with council, Barnes was told that the intersection at Highway 18 and the Youbou Highway is substandard and is unsafe for larger vehicles to make the turn when coming into Lake Cowichan from Youbou. She says she phoned the Ministry of Transportation and Infrastructure, and was told that they were surprised that this is the case.

“I think that if we encouraged the trucks to obey the speed limit more, and be more cautious, that it would improve the quality of life for all residents on North Shore Road,” said Barnes, adding that the last time she petitioned North Shore Road residents, there was only one person who was against implementing speed reduction.

Barnes also stated that many trucks start using the road at 6:30 a.m. and she feels they are clearly contravening the town’s bylaws. She would like truck traffic to use the Youbou Highway instead of North Shore Road.

Scheffer on the other hand, does not see the heavy truck traffic is a problem, as much as the lack of pedestrian space and the speed of vehicles travelling along the road.

“Times have changed and I don’t understand how the town got it wrong when they approved that development with creating public space for walking,” said Scheffer. “I’ve witnessed constantly, like almost daily, vehicles traveling in excess of 80 km an hour in front of my home.”

Scheffer did acknowledge the process of budgeting and the issues surrounding budgeting but wanted council to know that he feels that safety should be a number one priority.

“Safety is the thing you cannot put a price on. I know that when you have close calls, like when my son did, it’s time to really have a good look at things,” said Scheffer, referring to an incident where a truck, speeding along North Shore Road, came close to hitting his son, Brendan. “Child safety and proper community planning is really what’s important here.”

“When I saw the report on the close call incident, it did focus on the need for some sort of improvements on the corridor,” said Coun. Tim McGonigle. “We’ve been approached numerous times. Eventually, the need is to do a similar project [to the one that is] currently being undertaken in the downtown corridor. You can see how the parameters of that, in that stretch that you’re speaking of, would give us some concern with the acquiring of property, or the acquiring of land on the roadside.”

McGonigle went on to say that any projects along North Shore would not be within the next couple of years, but that council would take any such project under consideration.

It was also agreed that speed reduction initiatives such as lowering the speed limit or doing a traffic study could be solutions in the meantime.

In a telephone interview, Dave Johel, of Johel Brothers Group, said that Barnes has raised the issue of industrial truck traffic, noise and speed in the past and “the police verified that the trucks are not speeding.”

He agrees that the Youbou Highway and Highway 18 intersection is substandard and needs redesigning. He also reflected a note that Coun. Bob Day made during the meeting on Oct. 5, saying that North Shore Road has been a highway access road for industrial vehicles for a long time.

“The key point is that it’s a main artery,” said Johel. “We pay taxes and licensing for trucks to go on that road.”

He too feels that when the area was developed for residential units the develpers should have been made to create more parking and room for pedestrian traffic. “It’s a tight scenario. It’s not safe the way it is.”