The intersection of Opal and Rock City roads will return to the way it was, with left turns from Opal onto Rock City allowed once again, following a 5-4 vote by Nanaimo city council on Monday, May 3. (News Bulletin file photo)

The intersection of Opal and Rock City roads will return to the way it was, with left turns from Opal onto Rock City allowed once again, following a 5-4 vote by Nanaimo city council on Monday, May 3. (News Bulletin file photo)

Nanaimo city council votes to return Opal Road to the way it was

Turn-control measures at Opal and Rock City road intersection will be removed

The City of Nanaimo wasn’t able to control illegal turns at the Opal Road intersection, so city council has decided to just put things back the way they used to be.

City council, in a 5-4 decision Monday night, voted in favour of Coun. Zeni Maartman’s motion to remove the existing turn-control measures at the intersection that block drivers from turning left from Opal Road onto Rock City Road.

“From all we’ve heard from the residents, from what we see on social media and bumpers falling off from the way they’re hitting and the illegal turns, I’m just extremely uncomfortable with the way it is right now,” Maartman said.

Her motion went against staff’s recommendation, as general manager of engineering and public works Bill Sims said staff had hoped Monday’s meeting would be the last time the Opal Road intersection would come to the council table.

“The traffic-calming efforts have had the desired effect. We have essentially taken the local neighbourhood road that was being used as a shortcut and overused as a shortcut and we’ve reduced the traffic on that,” he said. “It’s created consternation in the neighbourhood, as council’s very well aware.”

A staff report noted that daily traffic volumes on Opal Road have gone from 1,300 vehicles per day in 2018 to fewer than 500 per day in 2020. However, some members of council, including Coun. Erin Hemmens, pointed out that there have been “unintended consequences of us reaching that goal.”

Monday’s vote was a reversal of past decisions because Hemmens voted differently this time. She said she spent 45 minutes at the intersection last week during rush hour speaking with residents and in that time, more than half the vehicles she saw made illegal turns, a truck hit the stop sign and there was a broken bumper on the median.

“If they’re losing their bumper, it’s because they’re going in the wrong direction and they’re travelling over things they’re not supposed to travel over,” said Coun. Don Bonner, who felt removing the turn-control measures would reward drivers’ bad behaviour.

Coun. Ian Thorpe also argued to keep the current measures in place.

“I think it is doing what it was designed to do and that is stop drivers using a neighbourhood road as a shortcut and in some cases, a speedway,” he said.

Coun. Ben Geselbracht, who voted against Maartman’s motion as well, said if the city were to remove the turn-control measures it should spend the money necessary to engineer Opal to a standard to handle increased traffic.

“If I was in the neighbourhood and my neighbourhood was not built to handle 1,000 cars going by, I’d be very angry at my municipal government to allow that to happen,” he said.

Sims suggested upgrades to Opal would cost “in the millions” because of the constraints of the street and the necessary property acquisition.

“It’s to the point where it’s hard to see how it would be prioritized,” he said.

Maartman’s motion passed with Bonner, Thorpe, Geselbracht and Coun. Jim Turley opposed.

The staff report predicted that removing the turn-control measures will see traffic volumes and speeds on Opal Road “revert back to pre-2018 numbers, undoing and disrupting the local neighbourhood,” but noted that travel time for drivers in the area will be reduced. The staff report added that the work to remove the turn-control structures will cost $20,000 and will require some reallocation of project budgets.

RELATED: Nanaimo city council narrowly votes down motion to return Opal Road to the way it was

RELATED: Nanaimo city council asks for another report on ‘high-speed shortcut’ residential road



editor@nanaimobulletin.com

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter

City HallTraffic

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Ceramic artist Teresa Dorey with some of the pieces from her upcoming exhibition, ‘Einfühlung: Feeling Into,’ at Nanaimo Ceramic Arts Studio and Gallery. (Josef Jacobson/The News Bulletin)
Ceramic artist explores ideas around empathy and touch in Nanaimo exhibition

Montreal’s Teresa Dorey presents ‘Einfühlung: Feeling Into’ at Nanaimo Ceramic Arts

Eliot White-Hill, Kwulasultun is the recipient of this year’s City of Nanaimo Culture and Heritage Award for Emerging Cultural Leader. (Josef Jacobson/The News Bulletin)
Eliot White-Hill, Kwulasultun is the recipient of this year’s City of Nanaimo Culture and Heritage Award for Emerging Cultural Leader. (Josef Jacobson/News Bulletin)
Multi-disciplinary Snuneymuxw artist named ‘Emerging Cultural Leader’

Eliot White-Hill, Kwulasultun, receives City of Nanaimo Culture and Heritage Award

The Village on Third in Nanaimo won the Judges’ Choice award as top overall entry at the Vancouver Island Real Estate Board Commercial Building Awards. (Photo submitted)
Nanaimo mixed-use building wins top prize at commercial building awards

Village on Third was Judges’ Choice winner at VIREB Commercial Building Awards

Nanaimo RCMP had been seeking help finding a 50-year-old woman who hadn’t been seen for two days. She has since been found safe. (Submitted photo)
UPDATE: Nanaimo RCMP report that woman who had been missing has been found

50-year-old located and is ‘safe and sound,’ say police

Commercial Street and other areas of Nanaimo’s downtown are now part of a new business improvement area following a petition-against process this spring. (Chris Bush/News Bulletin)
LETTER TO THE EDITOR: BIA process wasn’t fair to small business

Mom-and-pop shops will be challenged to pay the levy during hard times, says letter writer

The Village on Third in Nanaimo won the Judges’ Choice award as top overall entry at the Vancouver Island Real Estate Board Commercial Building Awards. (Photo submitted)
Nanaimo mixed-use building wins top prize at commercial building awards

Village on Third was Judges’ Choice winner at VIREB Commercial Building Awards

RCMP are looking for information on an alleged shooting attempt near an elementary school in Smithers March 10. (Phil McLachlan/Capital News/Stock)
UPDATE: Man killed in brazen daylight shooting at Vancouver airport

Details about the police incident are still unknown

Pieces of nephrite jade are shown at a mine site in northwestern B.C. in July 2019. THE CANADIAN PRESS/HO-Tahltan Central Government MANDATORY CREDIT
Indigenous nation opposes jade mining in northwestern B.C.

B.C.’s Mines Act requires operators to prepare a plan to protect cultural heritage resources

Nanaimo author Haley Healey recently launched her second book, ‘Flourishing and Free: More Stories of Trailblazing Women of Vancouver Island.’ (Photo courtesy Kristin Wenberg)
Nanaimo author pens second book on ‘trailblazing’ Vancouver Island women

Haley Healey’s ‘Flourishing and Free’ follows her 2020 debut ‘On Their Own Terms’

Nuns of Mother Teresa’s Missionaries of Charity, carry some of her relics during a vigil of prayer in preparation for the canonization of Mother Teresa in the St. John in Latheran Basilica at the Vatican, Friday, Sept. 2, 2016. In which city did she do much of her charitable work? (AP Photo/Gregorio Borgia)
QUIZ: How much do you know about these motherhood issues?

In honour of Mother’s Day, take this 10-question quiz

People pass the red hearts on the COVID-19 Memorial Wall mourning those who have died, opposite the Houses of Parliament on the Embankment in London, Wednesday, April 7, 2021. On May 3, the British government announced that only one person had died of COVID-19 in the previous 24 hours. THE CANADIAN PRESS/AP-Kirsty Wigglesworth
For a view of a COVID-19 future, Canadians should look across the pond

Britain, like Canada, is one of the only countries in the world to delay second doses for several months

The body of Brenda Ware, 35, was found along Highway 93 in Kootenay National Park on Thursday, May 6, 2021. (RCMP handout)
RCMP ask for tips after woman’s body found in Kootenay National Park

Brenda Ware was found along Highway 93 in the park, 54 kilometres north of the town of Radium

Edmonton Oilers’ Connor McDavid (97) celebrates his 100th point this season with Leon Draisaitl (29) against the Vancouver Canucks during second period NHL action in Edmonton on Saturday, May 8, 2021.THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jason Franson
Edmonton superstar McDavid hits 100-point mark as Oilers edge Canucks 4-3

NHL scoring leader needs just 53 games to reach century mark

Most Read