Access decision worries Valleyview residents

July 26, 2016 6:35 P.M.
Jim Freathy and Mike Popoff speak against Owl Road access before council Tuesday.

Despite safety concerns and a show of opposition by Valleyview residents, council voted Tuesday in support of the most economical access option for the City’s resource recovery centre located in their midst.

Councillors voted 7-2 — with Mayor Peter Milobar and Coun. Donovan Cavers opposed — for a plan to modify Owl Road as the sole access point for vehicles using the recovery centre and utility yard.

Traffic consultant Urban Systems recommended modifying Owl Road rather than building a new access road off Highland Road since it will be much less costly — $50,000 compared to 10 times that amount — and would results in fewer greenhouse gas emissions.

A Valleyview delegation not only argued against Owl Road as the access, they wanted the gravel route closed entirely except for emergencies.

“It’s going to create havoc on Valleyview Drive,” said Michael Popoff, a resident who spoke against the plan. The related issue of heavy truck traffic on the connector road wasn’t even considered in Tuesday’s discussion, he added.

Milobar said he couldn’t support the modified route.

“I just see it as $50,000 we don’t have to spend,” he said, noting that there have been no collisions at that intersection over the past decade. “I just see it as window dressing.”

Others around the table were more inclined to accept the compromise given that there are conditions attached. The City will monitor traffic at the site; report back to council with parameters for a broader transportation review of the corridor; and follow up with updated traffic counts at the site.

“I feel for residents,” said Coun. Marg Spina. “I see this as the first step; it’s not going to be the final solution.”

Coun. Tina Lange said she had doubts about using Highland Road, the sole access for Juniper Ridge resident above the site.

“I think the biggest problem for Valleyview Drive is traffic,” Lange said.

Diane McElvey of Juniper Community Association also spoke to the issue and cited an association survey that indicated 94 percent of residents opposed using Highland Road, an arterial route.

“We view Highland Road as our lifeline,” she said. “Whatever happens on that road affects every single resident of Juniper Ridge.”

Their concern is more than theoretical. A recent accident closed the route for three hours. They raised concerns over safety on a steep, curved route that already accommodates more than 8,000 vehicles daily. Site lines along Valleyview Drive would be better. As well, the Highland option could cost much more than estimated, as much as $2 million, she suggested.

Jim Freathy and Popoff made a strong case for Valleyview issues at the outset of Tuesday’s discussion. They said traffic along the corridor, which handles about 5,000 vehicles daily, will only increase with residential development to the east.

“Many large vehicles exiting Hwy. 1 south continue along Valleyview Drive,” Freathy said. “A traffic volume study should have been done to ensure safety.”

As well, they raised concerns over sight lines along Valleyview Drive, loss of street parking, and they argued that council had earlier agreed to the Highland option.

Milobar objected to that point, though, pointing out that it was made early in the discussion in an in-camera document.

“It is really a community safety issue,” Popoff said, adding that Valleyview Drive should be restricted to discourage heavy trucks. “Take Valleyview Drive and make it a 5,500-kg restricted  road.”

Pierre Filisetti says:
July 26, 2016 09:43pm

Valleyview Drive is a residential neighborhood road not a race track as it is presently configured and it should also definitely not be a major industrial route as well.
As far as carbon footprint/emissions/etc. goes, the slower the speed and lesser usage is better. Therefore let's make the roads less like race tracks and invest in a better public transit system, one with more welcoming, all-weather shelters, cleaner buses and consistent frequency.

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