Updated Feb. 22
Crossing Highway 97A at Parksville Street this summer should be a little safer with the addition of a pedestrian-activated signal.
At the last district committee of the whole meeting, interim administrator Doug Ruttan explained he had recently received a call from the Ministry of Transportation, who said they had “found some money” to upgrade the existing crosswalk structure at 97A and Parksville to a pedestrian-activated lighting system, and that the ministry wanted to get it done by March 31.
This sent the administrator scrambling to see what money was in the budget to cover the district’s portion, which will amount to $17,750.
“This has actually been worked on for some time and I’ve been reviewing it, and I think the general consensus was it’s a good thing, and that the ministry is picking up a good chunk of the tab,” said Ruttan at the recent district committee of the whole meeting.
In total, the upgrade will cost $35,000.
Regarding Sicamous’ portion, district financial services director Ruth Walper said there are sufficient funds left over from projects in 2011 that could be brought forward.
Coun. Don Richardson noted that the district has funding requests for a variety of things, and he questioned how it would pay for everything without putting hardship on the taxpayer.
“f you watch the traffic going back and forth across highway 97A there, from the high school, from the elementary school, it’s just a matter of time, especially in the summertime when you have so many vehicles backed up all the way down past Irly Bird there from the junction,” replied Coun. Charlotte Hutchinson. “I suggest to you that this is imperative… there are lesser things that we can find money for. This is something that needs to be done.”
Richardson said he agreed, and that he wasn’t saying the upgrade shouldn’t be done.
Sicamous Chamber of Commerce executive manager Corrinne Cross, who was in council chamber, was given an opportunity to speak to the matter. She noted that, at the district’s interagency meeting, the highway crossing is a factor in planning for where after-school functions occur. She said at one point an overhead crosswalk was suggested as an alternative.
Ruttan said that would be a multi-million dollar project, whereas the proposed upgrade, though not perfect, would be better than the existing setup.