Contentious road diet could return

Vernon Coun. Bob Spiers would like to see a road diet hit a permanent dead-end, not just stalled.

One Vernon politician would like to see a road diet hit a permanent dead-end, not just stalled.

The city will not proceed with reducing 43rd Avenue from four to three lanes because $868,000  in federal funding has not been received. However, the plan could be resurrected in the future and that’s a concern for Coun. Bob Spiers.

“I thought we would put this one to bed once and for all,” he said of the proposal that many 43rd Avenue merchants have claimed will drive away business.

“I want to get rid of this road diet for all time.”

City staff has indicated the project will be considered again when essential road surface maintenance is required.

Paving could be necessary in five years, and while he wants the project halted completely, Spiers admits that timeline is better than proceeding now.

“It will be a five-year holiday,” he said, adding that attitudes towards the plan could evolve by 2017.

“Planners, councillors and mayors could change. Business owners could welcome it by then.”

Coun. Mary-Jo O’Keefe believes now is not the time to proceed with reducing lanes on 43rd Avenue.

“It was so emotional and controversial,” she said of the public debate, adding that some residents were not informed on the specific details of the plan.

But O’Keefe says the city will eventually have to make a decision on an east-west route for cyclists, whether it’s on 43rd Avenue or along another road in Vernon.

“There is going to be more and more demand (for cycling) as the price of gas goes up,” she said.

“We need to provide a safe alternative for cyclists.”