Residents of Rudyard and Stormont roads in View Royal were back before council Tuesday night, pleading their case for more measures against motorists using their neighbourhood as a commuting route.
Anne Robson, a resident on Stormont Road, presented on behalf of a group of neighbours who believe they have found a solution to drivers making illegal left turns off Helmcken Road onto Rudyard during the morning commute instead of turning left on Island Highway, and the associated speeding through that 30 km/h zone.
“Over the years the Town of View Royal staff made numerous attempts, without success, to steer traffic away from Rudyard and Stormont by directing increasing traffic volumes to the main corridors … We appreciate these efforts, but they have not been successful,” Robson said.
Research data collected by the group over the past six months suggests these streets are travelled by more than 700 vehicles a day and 125 of these drivers are making illegal left turns. However, one resident’s own observations suggest the daily average number of motorists making illegal left turns has risen to 140.
“We suspect that number will continue to rise, especially when the McKenzie overpass project begins,” Robson said. “These drivers not only bring noise and nuisance to our neighbourhood but pose a real safety risk to us the residents, our families, our pets and the wildlife in our neighbourhood.”
The group proposed that council consider installing timed barrier arms on both sides of Rudyard where it connects with Helmcken. Motorists exiting Rudyard would trigger the right arm to go up, but the arm on the left would stay down for the duration of the left turn prohibition – from 6:30 to 8:15 a.m. Monday to Friday. Outside of that time period, both arms would remain in the upright position.
The cost of the barriers is estimated to be $15,000, which doesn’t include some installation costs and power.
The group proposed that first responders and emergency vehicles would have override capabilities in both directions and that electronic key fobs could be issued to contracted service providers needing to access the area, such as waste disposal or snow removal vehicles.
“This closure would greatly improve our neighbourhood’s access to the Stormont/Island Highway intersection and limit the volume of vehicles on our streets,” Robson said. “We request please that council consider our proposed solution to this long term problem.”
After the presentation, Coun. John Rogers posed a number of questions to the group, including concerns about the cost of the fobs, which is roughly $50 per unit, and their distribution. “I have a lot of questions,” he added.
Coun. Aaron Weisgerber noted other traffic-related concerns for the area, involving View Royal elementary. “This does nothing to address that?” He asked. “We hear as much about that as we do about the cut through.”
Robson noted, “they are two very different problems and are two problems which have great magnitude, but they are separate issues.”
Coun. Heidi Rast thanked the group for their well-researched proposal. “You’ve put a lot of effort into your presentation,” she said. But she too expressed some concerns relating to the cost of the project and asked staff if there was $20,000 in the budget for this project.
Staff noted there currently is no funding for that area.
Council members also expressed concerns about the potential for vandalism, which Robson noted was quite low as the arms are usually in the upright position. “There really isn’t much to vandalize,” she added.
Mayor David Screech added his own thoughts to the discussion. “I’m not personally convinced a gate is the right solution,” he said. “There’s a lot of issues with having a gate.”
Rast added, “I’m convinced it deserves a better look at.”
Screech noted they had recently done that. “Just 18 months ago we went through a very thorough, comprehensive neighbourhood consultation process where the majority of the people chose to keep the status quo … How often do we open the issue up when you think of the number of problem roads that we have all over our town?”
During the public participation section of the meeting a handful of residents expressed support for barriers on Rudyard Road.
However, one resident in attendance posed a much simpler solution to council members. He asked why they couldn’t just install a traffic camera at the intersection. He suggested that within two months it would start to influence drivers’ behaviour and within four months it should pay for itself, also creating a source of revenue after that point.
Screech noted that they have approached the West Shore RCMP in the past and the local detachment was not very receptive to the idea. But he noted it was something to consider again.