Vernon residents hoping a temporary four-way stop at a contentious intersection is made permanent have got their wish.
By a margin of 5-2 Tuesday, Oct.13, and after a nearly 35-minute debate on the topic, Vernon council voted in favour of Coun. Akbal Mund’s motion to make the temporary stop at 43rd Avenue and 20th Street permanent, despite a stern warning from staff.
The temporary stop was put in place in September as construction and re-paving began on two projects on Pleasant Valley Road between 39th and 48th avenues. Motorists have been using 20th Street as a detour.
The temporary measure was due to be returned to a two-way, north-south stop on 20th Street at 43rd as soon as the Pleasant Valley projects were complete, likely the end of October or first week of November.
Mund made a seven-point motion to his colleagues, the most important point being, he said, the overwhelming support for the four-way stop from residents.
“There are a few people who don’t want that stop sign there,” Mund said. “But more than 90 per cent have said, especially on social media, they want to keep that four-way stop.”
Mund also pointed out a four-way stop in front of Seaton Secondary at 29th Street and 41st Avenue has less traffic going through it than at 20th and 43rd. Harwood School is a block north of the intersection and “isn’t going anywhere,” noting parents are constantly dropping off and picking up their kids from the school. To the north on 20th Street is Girouard Park, a family-style park with playground.
Mund also said there’s going to be further development along 20th Street and the roadway will become a clear north-south corridor when the road expands beyond 58th Avenue to Stickle Road.
Opposition came from Mayor Victor Cumming, who wanted to wait until the Pleasant Valley Road projects were completed to re-visit the issue and more data was collected. Coun. Kelly Fehr, also in opposition, said he was torn on the issue as he lives in the area.
“I travel that route all the time and there are constantly kids crossing that intersection and the congestion is crazy, especially during school times,” Fehr said. “But (city transportation manager Amanda) Ms. Watson said there will be an increase in accidents if we do go with the four-way stop and by ignoring the professional advice and going for it, that’s a bit of a liability and that scares me.”
The four-way stop sign was added due to increased traffic volume as motorists detoured from construction in the surrounding area, but administration said once Pleasant valley Road is reopened, 20th Street won’t be as busy and there won’t be a need for a four-way stop.
Administration would continue to monitor traffic patterns on 20th Street and at the intersection with 43rd Avenue until construction is complete, a report to council reads.
“At this time, it will be returned to a two-way stop control as retaining an unwarranted four-way stop is an undesirable precedent and a known safety hazard,” the report reads.
City infrastructure and development manager Kim Flick strongly urged council to wait until receiving a staff report outlining what the potential ramifications of going against professional reports are.
“It might be possible that the options to make that mistake are not available to us in the short term,” Flick said. “I don’t know, and I don’t want to preclude what the results of that report would be. And I cannot stress enough that going contrary to these warrants…we strongly encourage council to receive a report on potential ramifications.”