The aftermath of an SUV found fully engulfed in flames Tuesday, Nov. 12, at 4 a.m. on Commonage Road. (Nicole Leger photo)

Vernon council to boost speed limit on problematic roadway

Despite crash records, fatalities and opposition from staff and residents, speed limits could rise

City of Vernon councillors voted in favour of bumping up the speed limit on Commonage Road from 60 to 70 km/h, despite recommendations from staff and objections from affected residents.

After some debate, four of seven councillors green-lighted the change moved by Coun. Scott Anderson during the Nov. 12 regular meeting.

“Everybody drives that speed,” Coun. Anderson said about the 3.48 kilometres of Commonage Road and 2.94 km of Mission Road. “If no one obeys it, all it is is a speed trap.”

His motion was backed by councillors Kelly Fehr, Dalvir Nahal and Brian Quiring.

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City of Vernon transportation manager Amanda Watson disagreed, noting her job is to “uphold public safety,” and limited vision on portions of Commonage Road call for a slower speed, rather than an increase.

“The collision history demonstrates that current speed limits and current road conditions drivers regularly fail to travel safely,” Watson said.

Watson said increasing the speed limit would increase collision frequency and severity. Between 2013-17, nearly 80 collisions were reported on Commonage and Mission roads, several resulting in injuries and one head-on collision in 2016 resulted in a fatality.

A second fatality, although unrecorded at this time, occurred on July 3, 2018, on Mission Road near Allan Brooks Way. A single vehicle left the road and collided with a power pole, administration’s thorough report detailed.

In 13 months between Sept. 2018-19, RCMP reported 11 collisions on Commonage Road and zero on Mission Road.

Councillors Akbal Mund, Kari Gares and Mayor Victor Cumming were concerned about the possibility of increasing the limit on Commonage Road.

“Increasing the speed limit to 70 (km/h) will allow people to drive 90 (km/h),” Coun. Mund said. “Listen to the residents, not the people who use (the road) to get from Point A to Point B.”

Currently, the limit is 50 km/h on Mission Road until Allan Brooks Way, then it rises to 60 km/h on Commonage Road heading south to the city limit.

Council’s decision to increase the speed limit to 70 km/h will be forwarded to the Ministry of Transportation.

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