Around 150 people crowded into Esquimalt’s council chambers Monday, primarily to hear decisions on a trio of long-awaited and contentious traffic issues.
After years of debate and an inconclusive resident survey, council voted to install speed cushions – square speed bumps that allow buses and emergency vehicles to pass through unhindered – on Old Esquimalt Road between Rockheights Avenue and Viewfield Road.
Residents surveyed were split on their opinions about the $61,000 traffic calming measure.
Nonetheless, Coun. Dave Hodgins emphatically stated it was an issue of public safety to move forward.
“We’re not here to make friends with everybody. Let’s make a decision,” agreed Coun. Robert McKie.
Lynda Hundleby was the only councillor to oppose the motion, saying she thought the public consultation process was flawed and traffic data was incomplete.
Residents of the 1200-block of Lockley Rd. also signalled victory after council passed a motion to make their street resident-only parking.
In that case, shipyard workers had been taking up the free street parking instead of using designated lots.
The most vocal in the crowd were residents of the 1100-block of Colville Rd., who argued against a staff recommendation that would ban them from parking in the alleyway behind their homes.
Staff told council the alley wasn’t wide enough to allow passage for emergency vehicles when other vehicles were parked there. Residents were adamant they have no other choice.
“They don’t have adequate parking for guests in the condos,” said resident Dwight Reed, referring to The Greenside complex at 1156 Colville Rd. “The street is always solid (with parked) cars.”
Instead of looking at restricting parking for residents in the block, Reed added, council should address the speeding traffic that rolls by every afternoon, a byproduct of the shipyard worker boom in the past year.
After a brief discussion on public safety, councillors directed staff to gather more information before a decision would be made.
Sewage discussion also attracts crowd
Some members of the crowd attending the Monday night council meeting were there to hear John Bergbusch.
The chair of the Association for Responsible and Environmentally Sustainable Sewage Treatment, speak about why the group opposes the planned $783-million treatment plant for the Capital Region.
Bergbusch said there will be inevitable cost overruns with the project, and that unlike every other infrastructure project in the province, the additional burden will fall on CRD taxpayers.
He also visited View Royal and Victoria council this week to give the same presentation, and plans to speak to Colwood, Langford and Oak Bay councils in the coming weeks.