The City of Campbell River recently received a letter signed by a number of residents and businesses around Merecroft Village concerned about what they perceive as increasing traffic and safety issues since a pair of new apartment complexes have been developed in the area.
Specifically, they are calling for the city to consider installing a crosswalk with flashing lights at the intersection of Dogwood Street and Cortez Road.
“With the completion of the second of three new apartment complexes south of Merecroft Village mall on South Dogwood Street, it seems time for an evaluation of their impact on the area,” the letter reads. “South Dogwood is only getting busier, and traffic calming is now necessary, so that something resembling a pedestrian-friendly neighbourhood could be created—something every resident of Campbell River should be able to enjoy.”
The letter’s primary signatory, Neall Calvert, lives in the apartments on the corner of Cortez and Dogwood, but it was co-signed by the business owners in the plaza at 582 South Dogwood, including The Lite Shop, Second to None Thrift Store and Pair-A-Dice Games, as well as management of Landmark Cinemas and Quality Foods.
Calvert and the other signatories say that with Cortez Road serving as a major route for “walkers, cyclists, dog-walkers, shoppers, parents with children in strollers and skateboarders,” heading to and from the residential area between Dogwood and South McPhedran, as well as to the Beaver Lodge Lands trails, there should be a more convenient and safe way to cross Dogwood between Robron and Merecroft roads.
“(Pedestrians) either have to go a block or two down to the Robron Road crosswalk, or an even longer two blocks uphill to Merecroft Road,” the letter reads. “Instead, pedestrians, keeping a close eye on steady, fast-moving traffic, can be seen jaywalking mid-block to arrive at Quality Foods, Landmark Cinemas, MVP Pub and elsewhere, and return, during daytime or evening hours. This is happening dozens of times each day. I have recently seen one elderly fellow from the new 575 South Dogwood building trying to cross at Cortez Road, frozen in mid-lane with cars approaching at speed from both directions. This should not be happening.”
Coun. Michele Babchuk has been adamant for some time that the increased density in that area was eventually going to present safety issues, and echoed her feelings on the matter again upon council receipt of the group’s letter.
“I live in that area, and it’s getting increasingly getting more and more dangerous,” Babchuk says. “We’re seeing a lot of left hand turns coming off that road even though the road is double-lined where you’re not supposed to be crossing that median. I do have concerns that as we densify that area, it’s getting more and more dangerous. I don’t know exactly what the plan is for further densification in that area, but before we get there, we need to be taking a look, especially, at that piece between Merecroft and Robron.”
Dave Morris, the city’s general manager of assets and operations, says the area in question would be “a natural part” of the current Dogwood Corridor Review the city is undertaking, that was begun under the previous council.
Coun. Charlie Cornfield wanted to know where staff is at with that review and whether there is any way that this area, specifically, could be looked at more quickly to address these concerns.
“I’m a little hesitant to look at something piecemeal,” said Coun. Colleen Evans. “I’d rather wait until we see the whole report and have an informed understanding of how this may all play out.”
City manager Deborah Sargent pointed out that not only is there currently a review underway of the entire Dogwood corridor, “but there is also a major development permit application in process, and part of that will require a traffic impact study that will look at both vehicular and pedestrian safety,” which will come before council soon, as well. Some of the concerns may be addressed during that permitting stage, she says.