City stalls road diet

It will take more time to digest a road diet.

It will take more time to digest a road diet.

While a decision was expected Tuesday, Vernon council voted 4-2 to defer a decision on reducing 43rd Avenue, from 27th and 32nd Streets, from four to three lanes so city staff can present more information.

A staff report isn’t expected until after the Nov. 19 municipal election.

“It will be up to the next council to make a decision,” said Coun. Jack Gilroy, who wanted a decision Tuesday.

Mayor Wayne Lippert denies council is trying to avoid a contentious issue prior to going to the polls.

“Council asked specific questions on the impact (of going from four to three lanes),” he said.

“Council would have done this whether there was an election or not.”

The concept of going to three lanes (one each way for traffic and a centre two-way, left-turn lane), as well as bike lanes, has been contentious. Many merchants have stated the plan will drive away business and the city recently received a 1,000-name petition slamming the proposal.

However, Coun. Mary-Jo O’Keefe is convinced more information is needed on the potential impact on businesses.

“What we’re getting from the citizens seems to be diametrically opposed to what we’re getting from staff,” she said referring to staff’s call to improve safety and encouraging cyclists.

“Traffic on 43rd Avenue is not flowing smoothly.”

Coun. Patrick Nicol pushed his colleagues to make a decision.

“People have spoken loud and clear and you don’t answer the public by just putting it off,” he said.

Conrad Kober, with Roko Services,  says deferral still gives council time to scrap the road diet plan.

“I wish it was dead today,” he said, adding that lobbying against the plan will continue.

Coun. Bob Spiers was absent Tuesday.