Speeding and snow removal big items at second neighbourhood meeting

City administrators listen during the question and answer session at the end of Thursday’s neighbourhood meeting at Arthur Pechey Public School. -- Jason Kerr/Daily Herald

Speeding, flooding and snow removal were the main concerns that dominated the city’s second neighbourhood meeting of 2018.

Roughly 30 residents came out to Arthur Pechey Public School for Friday night’s gathering, which brought some familiar concerns back to the forefront.

Snow removal in particular was a major item, with some residents grilling administrators on how much it costs the city. There were also concerns that crews were leaving large piles on the side of the road that forced residents to park too far out on to the street.

The most troublesome area was 22nd Street, starting on the intersection with Sixth Avenue East and running to the intersection on Seventh Avenue West, where crews are piling up too much snow on the shoulder, according to residents.

“It’s a yearly thing,” said Daryl Fusick, one of several attendees who brought up the issue on Thursday. “It has been for the past decade.”

Fusick has seen more than a few sideswipes and scrape ups due to the large snow banks piled on the side of the road. He said they force drivers to park too far out into the middle of the street, which causes problems for drivers using the road to get to Second Avenue West or the Victoria Hospital.

He called the situation bizarre, but added that he’s optimistic the city will take a good look at the problem and find a solution.

Ward 8 Coun. Ted Zurakowski, one of four city councillors in attendance on Thursday, said it’s easy to talk about snow removal, but the real question revolves around funding priorities.

Right now, the city relies heavily on contractors, who have to meet other obligations before they start working on city projects. If residents want quicker snow removal, he said, they have to realize it’s not going to come cheap.

“When it comes to dedicating dollars to snow removal, a lot of those dollars will need to go towards more equipment, which are big ticket items, and the staffing to operate it,” Zurakowski explained. “That’s not as easy as going to get that piece of equipment that sits most of the year, and then you need it for one or two snow events. There’s a lot of demand for the dollar, and you want to put your dollar where it’s most effective.”

Speeding was another major concern at Thursday’s meeting, especially the area around the intersection of Sixth Avenue and 32nd Street West, with attendees likening it to living next to a highway.

Zurakowski said speeding motorists have been a common concern for West Hill residents over the past few years. He wants to see more funding dedicated to placing traffic calming measures at “hotspots” in the area, but urged residents to be patient.

“There are two categories (of needs): actionable items that don’t cost a lot of money and then items that need to be budgeted for and planned for,” Zurakowski explained. “If we can knock off some of the low-hanging fruit and improve the lives of the people who live in the area, that’s great. Then we’ll talk about, in a meaningful way with some evidence and data collection, what we can do to mitigate some of that traffic speed and volume.”

In 2017, the city created a Transportation Master Plan, based on public feedback and studies like speed counts that were conducted between 2014 and 2017. Traffic on streets like Sixth Avenue West, 10th Avenue West and 28th Street West all had the dubious distinction of being among the city’s fastest, with average speeds in some sections hovering around 60 km/h.

Since then, the city has taken some steps to slow drivers travelling through the area. The latest measure, a traffic light at the intersection of Sixth Avenue and 28th Street West, is scheduled for installation sometime this spring.

A few residents also raised questions about the city’s drainage system after reporting flooding in the area around 20th Street and Fifth Avenue East. Wes Hicks, the city’s capital projects manager, said he wasn’t aware of flooding and drainage problems in the area, but promised to have the city’s engineering department take a closer look.

Change of plans

The location for the March 20 neighbourhood meeting has switched from the East End Community Hall to Princess Margaret School, located at 351 13th Ave. E. The start time remains 6 p.m.

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