Traffic tragedies

Tragedy and mourning has been felt across our nation and the world. While we mourn this event and reflect on it, we should consider the changes that we can make at home today to prevent similar tragedies. 

I am often disheartened by our governments' resistance to spending money on prevention, at the national, provincial and local levels. Often, safety and prevention is secondary or tertiary to business and political concerns. As a quick reminder of the statistics on traffic fatalities and injuries, Transport Canada reports that there were 1,858 traffic fatalities in 2015, or 5.2 per 100,000 people. The total traffic injuries were 161,902.
I am disappointed that in 2016 this Mayor and Council would not vote to support the two recommended interchanges at Westlake and Horizon which are designed to improve traffic safety and efficiency. This in spite of the study released in 2013 which showed that these intersections were already failing. This in spite of local statistics showing 115 collisions on this stretch of highway in 5 years. On more than one occasion I have witnessed collisions or near collisions at Horizon Drive and Highway 97. On one occasion, a cyclist was crossing at the crosswalk and had his back tire hit by a car turning right onto the highway. On several occasions, vehicles crossing from Boucherie to Horizon nearly collided with vehicles turning left from Horizon onto 97. Further down the highway there is no lighting and the lines are faded or missing entirely. In the winter, drivers struggle to stay in their lanes from the Horizon intersection to the Westside Road overpass. These intersections and sections of road are unsafe. 

I ask you to reflect on this and consider what actions you would take if children lost their lives at these intersections. I ask you to consider taking those actions before the tragedy. As a City, we do not get to wash our hands of responsibility on Provincial highways, nor should we oppose positive changes for our community. We should advocate for positive change, and where we think there are better alternatives we should address them decisively. Kicking the can down the road is not responsible governance.

In areas where our City does have control, we can simplify the process for creating traffic calmed areas. Obtaining a petition from 50% of residents on the roadway is an onerous task, one that immediately precludes many citizens from taking action. Waiting for collision history to prioritize changes is once again, deferring responsibility. I recommend removing the petition requirement altogether and allowing staff to review requests on their merits. I also recommend that staff assess factors such as speeding and proximity to residences and playgrounds as a priority.

As one example of an area in need, Sunview Drive is road with close to 100 residences where a petition  should not be required. Dozens of these residences have small children, there are two parks, kids walk to school, ride bikes, play hockey, play basketball and play games in their front lawns and driveways. The road connects Horizon Drive and Westlake Road and as a result drivers make long trips one way or the other to get to the fastest road to the highway. Drivers move quickly through these streets, often at 60km/h. Parked cars line the sidewalk, obscuring the view of driveways. As I sit and write this, a BMW SUV races around the corner near the end of Sunview Drive towards Marathon Court. Moments later a Dodge truck races the other direction. It is twilight. Does a child need to die before we put in a speed bump? Is in-road lighting, signage and enforcement worth more than someone's life?

I have listened to council meetings, reviewed your minutes and tried to understand what motivates each of you. I watched to the debates on putting in a traffic circle at Boucherie and Hudson. I watched to the debates on how to handle the Highway 97 corridor redesign. I understand these are complex issues with many stakeholders and that with any change there will be winners and losers. Please, don't let our children be the losers.

Scott Beaton

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