Michele Babchuk says with increased density comes increased traffic, and she would like to see more bus pullouts as well as for city staff to take a look at the timing of the lights to improve the flow along Dogwood Street. Photo by Mike Davies/Campbell River Mirror

Campbell River candidates take on increased density causing traffic congestion on Dogwood Street

How do the candidates feel about growth causing increased traffic on our four-lane arterial road

With the growth being experienced in Campbell River these days creating increased density in certain residential areas, one of the questions posed by the public to the candidates in the upcoming election at Monday night’s all-candidates forum was what they would like to see done along Dogwood Street.

The main arterial road through town – the only with four lanes, at least – has long been a point of contention with commuters in terms of congestion and the candidates have a range of thoughts on how to remedy that.

Allan Buxton says he’s heard from many people about the issue of congestion on Dogwood, and he draws a direct line from that issue to the issue of affordable housing, because if the city is going to get a handle on that issue, there needs to be more residential development.

“Anywhere you build a housing project there’s going to be increased traffic, so the thing for the city to look at is how to manage that,” Buxton says. “Do we put extra roads in to manage that traffic? Do we decrease the amount of access to the sites? It’s something that the city will definitely have to manage when housing developments and permits are brought forward to us.”

Charlie Cornfield acknowledges the issue and says the first approach should be in reviewing the overall transportation plan for the city.

“The current transportation plan for the city is getting old and needs to be reviewed, especially in light of the amount of development that is occurring,” he says, and adds the current strategy of requiring developers to perform traffic studies before being issued permits is a good one, but says widening Dogwood to install turning lanes, as some would have the city do, is financially unfeasible.

Kermit Dahl says he thinks people are making a big deal out of a problem that is essentially isolated to two hours a day, five days a week.

“It’s a busy street, for sure. For an hour in the morning and an hour late in the afternoon, it’s a busy place,” Dahl says. “But we’re fortunate in that we have four routes that go from the north end of Campbell River all the way to the south and the south to the north. We could be like Courtenay and have two bottlenecks, so Campbell River is very lucky in the way that it’s set up.”

Colleen Evans agrees with Cornfield about reviewing the transportation master plan, saying it needs to be done much more frequently than it currently is so that council can make informed decisions when presented with development permit applications.

Ron Kerr says congestion problems are, in some ways, nice ones to have, because “it’s a challenge of success,” saying that the city is finally starting to develop into the “node” model that has been envisioned for years, which he hopes will help self-remedy the Dogwood situation because people won’t have to travel the length of town to get what they need and more people will walk or use other modes of transportation to get around within their specific areas of the city instead. He also acknowledges, however, that there need to be changes on Dogwood Street, suggesting the city make “some property purchases to help widen that corridor.”

Marlene Wright echoed Evans and Cornfield’s assessment of needing to review the transportation master plan, while Michele Babchuk says it’s matter of balance. It’s complicated and has many facets.

She echoed Kerr’s assessment of breaking town up into “hubs” helping somewhat and agreed with the statements of those who said the master transportation plan needs to be reassessed, but also added that she will push for more bus pullouts to help keep lines of traffic from forming behind them, “and I have no idea who configures the lights on Dogwood and would certainly like to see that revisited.”

You can watch Monday night’s forum in its entirety on the Mirror’s Facebook page at facebook.com/campbellrivermirror