The city will cancel a tender to improve a “dangerous” Nanaimo intersection after politicians postponed the project for up to a year.
Nanaimo city council voted 6-3 at a council meeting Monday to delay improvements to the Northfield Road, Boundary Avenue and Highway 19A intersection for up to one year to see what happens with passenger rail.
This is the third time the project has been postponed since 2014.
A tender process, underway for the Northfield intersection project, was expected to close this May. City staff members, however, recommended council put the work on hold for a year or until there’s more certainty about the future of rail.
There are $1.5 million in rail costs tied to the intersection project, half of which would be paid by the city.
Coun. Gord Fuller said he did not support spending money on something that may end up being ripped out in the near future. Coun. Ian Thorpe said he understands the significant impacts of the railway in terms of costs to the project and given the uncertainty of rail, and wasn’t against delaying the project. But he also took issue with the recommendation to defer the project for a year or until there’s more certainty on the future of rail, which he said could take years.
“I don’t want to see us put off indefinitely fixing this intersection,” said Thorpe, who considers it “very dangerous.”
Mayor Bill McKay and councillors Wendy Pratt and Diane Brennan opposed the delay.
Pratt wanted to see the intersection project go ahead – “we’ve put it out there, there’s a huge expectation of the people that use that intersection and I do believe they are going to be very disappointed if we don’t go ahead,” she said.
Pratt used the intersection for about 15 years when she worked in the area and said it’s dangerous not only for drivers, but for pedestrians and cyclists.
Brennan said the intersection being dangerous is the primary focus, but the costs associated with withdrawing the tender were also a concern. She said she’s also sure it’s a concern to the community that the city would withdraw a tender for a project that has been promised for years.