Concern over downtown laneway behind old KFC

Letter to council sends staff back to look at possible solutions

City council will investigate problems associated with a problem corner coming out of the laneway behind the former Kentucky Fried Chicken building.

Council, at its July 20 meeting, directed city staff to report back to council on the traffic flows through the laneway following a letter from a business in the area.

Stewart Carstairs, barrister and solicitor, wrote to council on behalf of the Campbell River law firm of Shook, Wickham, Bishop and Field to air concerns regarding the lane and, in particular, the point where it meets the section of 9th Avenue behind Chances casino.

“The laneway is narrow and it is used frequently by people working in the area, and people trying to avoid the lights at Alder and Shoppers Row,” Carstairs wrote. “It becomes extremely narrow where it meets 9th.”

Carstairs said the problem is made worse because of the undeveloped section of 9th Avenue that comes down onto the laneway and which isn’t maintained.

The other issue, according to Carstairs, is the blind corner.

“In its current condition, this corner is dangerous to navigate, especially for cyclists or skateboarders or those with mobility issues, who really have nowhere to go to avoid fast moving vehicles,” he wrote.

Carstairs suggested the city work to improve the corner, particularly with a new neighbour moving in to the area.

Discovery Laser is set to take up shop in the former KFC building, which the laneway runs behind.

Carstairs said he does not wish to see the business “spend money needlessly but we think they would also benefit from an improved corner.”

The city, however, disagreed.

In a report to city council, Matthew Fitzgerald, a city planner, wrote that city staff found that no improvements to the laneway are required due to the existing condition of the asphalt surfacing.

“There is no need to upgrade this to an urban roadway standard nor was there an identified need to make improvements to the laneway,” Fitzgerald wrote in his report. “Further, the proposed plan, and specifically changes to landscaping, help to delineate a functional and effective laneway within the 9th Avenue right-of-way.”

Coun. Larry Samson, after reading Carstairs’ letter, wanted staff to take another look.

“I think it’s important, with the addition of the four-way stop at the Royal Bank and the entrance to Tyee Plaza, that if we’re seeing a problem that we get on it right away,” Samson said. “I look at the City of Courtenay where they’ve had to put in different traffic calming measures in their downtown.

“The other thing is, we’re experiencing somewhat of a problem in our downtown lately with unruly behaviour and I think getting on this laneway may prevent further problems down the road,” Samson added. “I think it’s important that we deal with this.”