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University students study ways to fix up Campbellton

Two Vancouver Island University geography classes have spent nearly half a year trying to come up with ways to improve Campbellton.

The University collaborated with the Campbellton Neighbourhood Association – a group of area residents and businesses owners working to improve that end of town – as well as with the city.

The students used an extensive amount of background and inventory information that the Campbellton Neighbourhood Association dug up in 2012 and 2013.

What the students came up with are improvements that can be put into three sections: mobility, safety and security, and assets and liabilities.

Keltie Chamberlain, a geography student at VIU, said approximately 40 students visited and researched the area.

“We wanted to create an Action Plan that outlines a realistic process for implementing minimal cost, along with low, medium and high cost actions,” Chamberlain told council at last week’s Tuesday city coundil meeting. “One that has proven to be quite popular is the naming project of back roads and alleyways. It improves signage and makes navigation easier. The names could be of historical, geographic or current importance.”

Another option is healthy living routes which involve setting up markers that encourage people to get up to the daily recommended 10,000 steps.

“It puts eyes on the street, it pulls people to the neighbourhood from other neighbourhoods to follow the walking route,” said Pamela Shaw, a VIU geography instructor.

Traffic calming measures such as curb extensions at intersections and key crossing points are also recommended for Campbellton.

Shaw did, however, warn council that not everybody would be happy with slowing down traffic.

“It would not be without controversy,” she said. “I suspect not everyone is in support of calming traffic on main roads or having traffic slowed to, one of the suggestions was 30 kilometres an hour, which I say that knowing that eyebrows are raised in the room.”

Other improvements included re-painting the crosswalks into unique configurations and putting in different shaped and brightly painted bike racks.

Chamberlain said the painted crosswalks are a new trend popping up around North America as a way of revitalizing neighbourhoods.

“The city is already re-painting crosswalks, it would not be so difficult to paint them into a different configuration,” Chamberlain said.

“It would give new life to the neighbourhood.”

Shaw said next steps involve putting some of the suggested improvements into action.

“What we’re trying to avoid is putting together an action plan that has a lot of great ideas and no follow-up,” Shaw said. “We intend to follow through on this project.”

That was welcome news to council.

“I’m very passionate about Campbellton and a vision for that,” said Coun. Ron Kerr. “I’m looking forward to it continuing, not just ending with something that goes on the shelf but a continued relationship with the university as we go ahead.”

Mayor Walter Jakeway said he felt the same.

“Thank you for choosing Campbell River,” the mayor said to Shaw and Chamberlain.

“We hope to see some of it put into action. I know the (Campbellton Neighbourhood) Association, some of the members are pretty set in their ways so they won’t let it not happen.”

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