Port Drive at Front Street is one of five intersections across Nanaimo that will receive pedestrian safety upgrades. Nanaimo city council voted Monday to spend $300,000 in allocated money to improve intersections for pedestrians. (Chris Bush/News Bulletin)

Five Nanaimo intersections will get pedestrian safety upgrades

Council votes to spend $300,000 of unallocated funds on rapid-flash beacons and curb extensions

Several Nanaimo intersections will get safety improvements following a vote by city council to spend unallocated money to improve pedestrian safety.

Council voted unanimously Monday to approve spending the entire unallocated $300,000 to upgrade five intersections.

Uplands Drive at McRobb Avenue and Hammond Bay Road at Nottingham Drive will receive rectangular rapid flash beacons to increase pedestrian visibility.

Victoria Road at Esplanade Street, the Waddington Road and St. George Crescent intersection and Front Street at Port Drive will each get rectangular rapid flash beacons and curb extensions, which work as a system to raise pedestrian visibility with flashing lights and the curb extensions allow pedestrians to step past parked vehicles and be seen by drivers before crossing the intersection.

The intersection upgrades were one of four options presented to council by city staff. Alternatives included using the money to complete a sidewalk project on Departure Bay Road between Alan-A-Dale Place and Wardropper Park, to defer a decision to spend the money until a later date, or have council direct staff to eliminate the $300,000 from the first year of the city’s 2020-2024 financial plan.

Coun. Zeni Maartman said she liked the idea of spending the money on intersections, but expressed concern about the Departure Bay Road sidewalk project not being completed because it would be used by children walking to school.

Jamie Rose, city manager of transportation, said the sidewalk project could possibly be reviewed again in 2021 and interim measures, such as bollards along the roadway to provide separation between vehicles and pedestrians, could be installed until the sidewalk is built.

Nanaimo Mayor Leonard Krog advised against using the money for the Departure Bay sidewalk project now.

“If we proceeded with approving it for sidewalks, the … Alan-A-Dale to Wardropper Park [project] would take up the whole $300,000,” Krog said. “If we allocate intersection upgrades, we upgrade five intersections in total.”

READ ALSO: Taxpayers at e-town hall meeting ask for more sidewalks in Nanaimo

Council received at Monday’s meeting a 135-signature petition to install rectangular flashing beacons at the Bruce Avenue and Albion Street crosswalk in Harewood. One woman suffered life-altering injuries at the crosswalk in November and another woman died in 2016, both after being struck by vehicles at the crosswalk.

“Obviously council is concerned about the injuries that were received by the young woman that prompted this petition, but having said that, given this matter is the subject of an existing legal claim, I’m afraid we can’t comment further on it,” Krog said.

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