Kent’s council chambers was filled with the sounds of babies and toddlers on Monday night, as several families attended in hopes of pushing for a speedier resolve to growing traffic concerns.
While a traffic committee has been working with council for about a year to find solutions to calm a rural bypass through Agassiz, residents’ concerns have been re-ignited after a young girl was hit on Ashton Rd Feb. 13, on the road near her home.
Heather Redmond, a parent of two and a resident of Fir Rd., was the first to speak.
“We again ask for effective calming measures to be taken, but this time under more serious circumstances,” she said.
Signage has been erected along the route, which travels between Whelpton Rd. at the Agassiz-Rosedale bridge, along Tuyttens, Mountainview, Fir, a section of Pioneer and Ashton, before reconnecting with the highway system at Hwy. 7. Traveling the side roads is a way of avoiding driving through Agassiz, and popular with workers north of Lougheed Hwy., residents say, including the two prisons and Rimex.
They are concerned with the increasing volume of traffic, and the speed of some travelers. Things have gotten worse, they say, since parts of the route were re-paved.
“Reminders (speed signs) are not going to work in this case,” Redmond said. Many commuters, she said, are traveling most of their route at highway speeds.
“It’s easy to unwittingly maintain highway speeds,” while traveling the 50km/hr route.
Redmond gave the council three suggestions for traffic calming. The first would be a three-way stop sign at Mountainview Rd. and Agassiz Ave. The second would be speed bumps to encourage the stop. And third, she suggested, was to prohibit left turns on Whelpton for traffic coming off the bridge.
Marvin Geronimus, the father of the girl who was hit by a car two weeks ago, also spoke to council. He said he moved his family from the city to their house on Ashton Rd. “for a quieter country life” about five years ago.
“That is not the case,” he said of the street. “The majority of people go way too fast for that road.” The section of Ashton he lives on is less than 500m long, and many people hit speeds double the limit.
He said his daughter’s incident has “shaken up the whole family,” and has emboldened them to speak up about the speeding on his street.
“Not everybody is bad, but everyday there is something,” he said. “My daughter could have easily been killed that day,” Geronimus said.
Coun. Holger Schwichtenberg asked staff if the District even can control the speed limit, to which Mick Thiessen answered yes.
“We know that speeding is an issue on that road,” Mayor John Van Laerhoven said.
Coun. Lorne Fisher pointed out that a council cannot tell an entire community to stay off certain roads.
“This does not give much regard to the community as a whole,” he said. “Ashton Rd. is a very important point of entry” especially for emergency services. He also noted that those commuting in and out of Agassiz contribute to the tax base.
However, the District is currently going into discussions to rework the Official Community Plan, and this issue will be on the agenda.
“I guess we have to make a decision if we take a step backward and limit roadways or take a step forward and make them more usable,” Fisher said.
The traffic will only increase, through both the rural bypass and Agassiz, as the community and prison both continue to expand.
The District is currently working with Speed Watch, but volunteers are a requirement of the program and they are still looking for those.