Harewood Centennial Park is growing as a neighbourhood destination and speed limits nearby will begin to reflect that.
Nanaimo city council, at a special meeting Monday, approved three transportation measures for Georgia Avenue: reducing the speed limit, implementing temporary traffic calming, and improving intersections.
The three measures, totalling $85,000, were part of $170,000 in roadway reallocation options approved by council and funded by reallocating money previously budgeted for different transportation projects.
Georgia Avenue’s speed limit will be reduced to 30 kilometres per hour between Fourth Street and Eighth Street. There will also be two temporary traffic-calming circles – repurposed backhoe tires – placed at Georgia and Albion Street and Georgia and Nova Street which “could be made permanent if they prove to be successful,” a staff report noted. Pedestrian crossings along Georgia Avenue at Fourth Street, Fifth Street and Harewood Road will see safety improvements including new signs and markings.
The staff report says the Georgia Greenway is identified in the Harewood neighbourhood plan as a “priority walking and biking corridor for the community.”
Coun. Erin Hemmens said she was at Harewood Centennial Park this past weekend and saw an outdoor yoga class taking place, the water park and covered lacrosse box being used and a few dozen people at the skatepark, and just eight cars in the parking lot.
“Absolutely we need to keep the infrastructure for cars because that’s primarily how people get around, but if we’re interested in building that community that works for other folks – people with lower income, people with multiple children, etc., I think we need to start thinking about infrastructure that works for everybody,” she said.
Coun. Ben Geselbracht commented that he liked the idea of the temporary traffic circles being reused material.
“I really appreciate looking at how to deploy things quickly as pilots and then assessing how they work,” he said. “And this concept of slow streets, I really hope for close attention to this and to see it expanded.”
Coun. Ian Thorpe was the only member of council to speak in opposition, saying motorists would be frustrated by the traffic changes on Georgia Avenue.
City manager of transportation Jamie Rose said in an e-mail that the intersection enhancements along Georgia might not be finished until the fall but he’s hoping that the traffic-calming circles and new 30km/h speed limit will be in place at the beginning of August.
Council approved the Georgia Avenue work as part of a list of roadway reallocation options, approving at the same time a new cycling lane on Departure Bay Road and a walking lane on Boxwood Road. The vote was 7-1 with Thorpe opposed and Coun. Sheryl Armstrong absent.