Vernon council has applied the brakes to a Nov. 12 decision to raise speed limits on Commonage Road to 70 km/h.
A request for reconsideration of council’s earlier decision was discussed at the Nov. 25 council decision.
Instead of raising the limit, council decided to leave things as they are for now, but will look at changing the speed limit to 60 km/h along the entire roadway.
Coun. Brian Quiring moved Monday, Nov. 25, to reconsider the original motion (opposed by councillors Scott Anderson and Dalvir Nahal) of maintaining a portion of the road speed limit at 50 km/h, and asked staff to go back to traffic consultant that recommended this and ask the consultant if they’d consider amending their report to increasing the speed limit to 60 km/h.
“I drive that road all the time. It’s a cycling route to Predator Ridge. Anybody that rides a bike poorly like me understands when you’re riding uphill, you tend to wander because you get tired,” said Coun. Quiring, who supported the original motion to raise the limit.
“The biggest problem in my opinion isn’t the driving up to Predator at a higher speed, it’s the reverse, coming back. If you have a posted speed of 70, you’re probably driving 80 and you’re screaming into town. It’s a problem. I can’t support 70 (km/h).”
Council’s original decision Nov. 12 was made despite recommendations from city staff and objections from affected residents. Four of the seven council members voted in favour of the move introduced by Coun. Anderson.
“If we are actually looking at fact-based decision-making, raising the limit to the speed people already drive is actually safer than artificially lowering it to what we hope people will drive,” said Coun. Anderson Monday.
His Nov. 12 motion was backed by councillors Kelly Fehr, Nahal and Quiring. Fehr was absent from Monday’s regular meeting.
City transportation manager Amanda Watson urged council to avoid the speed increase in advance of the Nov. 12 vote, for fear it would increase the frequency and severity of roadway collisions.
Between 2013-17, around 80 collisions were reported on Commonage and Mission roads, several of which resulted in injury and one 2016 fatality after a head-on collision.
A second fatality, although unrecorded at this time, occurred on July 3, 2018, on Mission Road near Allan Brooks Way.
Councillors Akbal Mund, Kari Gares and Mayor Victor Cumming were concerned about the possibility of increasing the limit on Commonage Road.
Coun. Gares said one study she researched, specifically about rural country backroads in B.C., clearly suggests increasing the speed limit on such roads “has a significant increase in accidents, especially accidents causing bodily injury.”
“We can have this debate. There is research on both sides but I believe 100 per cent increasing the speed limit on Commonage Road in that particular area to 70 km/h makes absolutely no sense,” Coun. Gares said Monday.
A petition was started to retain the speed limit at 60 km/h by resident Jolene McLellan. At time of publishing, 326 people had signed the petition.
A second petition, favouring the increase, signed by more than 360 peoplewas presented to council Monday.