District needs variance for rolled curb

The District of Sicamous will be applying to itself for a permit to roll out rolled curb along Shuswap Avenue.

The District of Sicamous will be applying to itself for a permit to roll out rolled curb along Shuswap Avenue.

This was the direction decided upon by district council following a lengthy debate over the legality and benefits of using rolled versus squared curb on Shuswap, as part of the planned infrastructure upgrades in the area.

Coun. Jeff Mallmes began the discussion with the introduction of a staff-designed plan for the reconstruction of Main Street to Martin Street, showing rolled curb. Because this section of Shuswap is designated in the district’s official community plan as collector route, the curb should be squared, he explained. However, Mallmes said seniors who live along Shuswap, especially those who use scooters or walkers, have difficulty with squared curb sidewalk and where it slopes for driveways.

“They said that their carts are unstable going across that. They actually complained, they said the ones on Main Street that do that are a little tricky with those scooters that they ride,” said Mallmes. “So I’m going to make a recommendation that we go with staff’s proposed drawing.”

Coun. Malcolm Makayev responded to Mallmes’ resolution by calling staff’s proposal as being non-compliant with the OCP.

“We can’t pass this resolution without first passing a resolution to change the bylaw dictating what is a collector route, because the motion in front of us right now is illegal…,” said Makayev, noting the reason for the raised sidewalk and squared curb is to protect pedestrians by keeping vehicles off the sidewalk.

“Coun. Mallmes says (rolled curb) is cheaper to build and cheaper to maintain,” said Makayev. “Oh sure, we could do a lot of things that are cheaper to build and cheaper to maintain. It’s just like that Visa commercial, you can’t put a value on safety, safety is priceless, and we’re talking about the most vulnerable people in our community that are going to be exposed to a car…”

With the gauntlet thrown down, other councillors began weighing in. Coun. Todd Kyllo noted there are different curb designs throughout the community, and he didn’t see the benefit of going with the more expensive squared curb.

“To me, this isn’t a safety issue at all… I think it’s an issue that we have to decide as a group, do we want rolled curb, or do we want a curb that’s 90 degrees that’s going to get all eaten up and chunked out through the grading of the snow in the winter,” said Kyllo.

Coun. Gord Bushell also leaned towards rolled curb, noting the district has been breaking its rules for the past 15 or 20 years in doing rolled curbs.

“Why is that stopping us tonight,” said Bushell. “We can still change the bylaw two weeks or a month from now. As a developer, our bylaws totally need to be revamped, especially the subdivision bylaw. It’s hindering the growth of this community and I think we should move forward.”

Community planner Mike Marrs noted the district is currently going through its OCP review, and from this process there are recommendations to modify some road designations, including that of Shuswap Avenue, which would be downgraded from a collector, “partly because of the narrowness of this right-of-way and having to reduce the lane-width to incorporate the sidewalks, etc., as well as, primarily, the road is surrounded or runs through residential areas.”

Marrs added rolled curb, from his perspective, hasn’t proven to be a safety issue, and suggested council could allow its use on Shuswap through a development permit application or by changing the bylaw (a longer and more complicated process).

After further discussion, Mallmes agreed to rescind his motion, with council favouring the development permit application.

Makayev argued no one on council was qualified to make this decision, and insisted on the involvement of a traffic safety engineer.

Subsequently, council agree to direct staff to prepare a development variance permit application for the District of Sicamous to apply to the District of Sicamous, regarding the subdivision servicing bylaw on Shuswap Avenue, and include with the application an opinion letter from a qualified traffic safety engineer.