Marvin Jeronimus

Speed limit to be lowered on Ashton Road in Agassiz

Speed limit will drop to 30 km/hr this week, following accident and mounting resident concerns

The speed limit along a portion of Ashton Road is being reduced to 30 km/hr, following an incident in which a young girl was hit by a car.

Kent council voted 3-1 (Mayor John Van Laerhoven was absent) in favour of the change on Monday night, and staff confirmed that the change will be made by the end of this week.

Coun. Duane Post was the sole voice against the change, but he underlined that it is not because he doesn’t want to see improvements along that section of road.

“I think education is needed,” he said. Council recently approved an ICBC road improvement study, and Post said he would rather have that study carried out before making any sweeping changes.

“I’m a little bit hesitant to go along with this at this time,” he said, and would rather await ICBC’s opinion.

Traffic flow was already being addressed along the route connecting Lougheed Hwy to the Agassiz-Rosedale bridge, by way of a select traffic committee. Some minor changes have already been made to the route, which carries from Ashton Road, to Pioneer Ave., Fir Rd., Mountainview Rd., Tuyttens Rd. and Whelpton Rd. The portion of Ashton Rd. being changed runs between the Lougheed Hwy and Holly Road.

Staff recommended the change, due in part to the accident on Feb. 13, in which a six year old girl was hit by a car on the road. Since then, public concerns have been mounting, in the form of letters to council and delegations.

Mick Thiessen, director of engineering services, said the change is one they could make quickly and affordably. Some of the road conditions mentioned in his report include the number of hidden driveways, narrow shoulders, pedestrian activity and the presence of a railway crossing.

The report included a breakdown of costs for some of the suggestions made by the traffic committee and residents.

Speed bumps are about $3,000 each, and would need to be spaced 125 metres to 225 metres apart to be effective. Using an average of 200 metres spacing for the rural route would total $50,000.

Raised intersections have also been suggested. Three raised intersections would cost $45,000.

Some signage has been altered along the route, including 20 km/hr advisory signs on the 90 degree turns on Fir Road.

But changing the speed limit will only deter people once tickets are handed out for speeding, many councillors, staff and those in the public gallery pointed out.

CAO Wallace Mah said that RCMP have been stepping up enforcement in that area, and that ticketing for the October to December period was up 58 per cent from 2011 to 2012. The Agassiz detachment is doing what it can, Mah said, but sometimes there is only one or two officers on duty.

He said the RCMP has agreed to a zero tolerance policy within the new speed zone.

However, the change to the speed limit didn’t seem to be enough for some who spoke at the meeting.

“I don’t think council has look at this sufficiently,” Sylvia Pranger said. She said she’d like to see Pioneer Ave. addressed as well.

“Council has not made any effort to assist us” in reducing traffic volume, added Dave Hastie. “We want reduced traffic alogn this route.”

But council insisted that they are putting every effort into addressing their concerns.

“Council and staff has spend a lot of time on this issue,” Post said.

Coun. Holger Schwichtenberg said he’d like to see the slower speed limit extend to Fir Road, which is made up of a series of short jaunts broken up by 90 degree turns.

“I don’t think it’s a hardship to go 30 km/hr,” added Coun. Lorne Fisher.

Staff were asked to travel the road prior to the report being written, and to record their comfortable speed, Thiessen said.