Solar powered crosswalk lights cost over double what city staff originally thought

City council attempted to make Pier Street safer for pedestrians at last week’s council meeting

City council attempted to make Pier Street safer for pedestrians at last week’s council meeting.

Coun. Andy Adams said that during budget deliberations in March council had directed city staff to set aside funding for solar-powered pedestrian crossing lights at crosswalks along Pier Street, similar to ones installed at the Dogwood and Pinecrest and the Dogwood and Robron crosswalks.

However, Drew Hadfield, the city’s transportation manager, told council in a report dated Nov. 2 that council had approved $23,372 in funding from the gaming reserve for what was described as ‘Pier Street Traffic Control Light.’

Hadfield said during budget deliberations council was provided with a list of detailed projects that included ‘Highway 19A and Fishing Pier parking lot entrance access improvement.’

Adams thought the funding set aside was also supposed to cover the costs for a light at the crosswalk in front of Quay West restaurant, the old Beehive.

“I may have missed it but I was certain we had recommended a solar pedestrian light at the Pier Street crosswalk,” Adams said. “There was a lot of paper flying around but I know it was discussed during financial planning.”

Hadfield’s report to council said council could re-allocate the funding towards additional pedestrian activated lights, in order to cover the crosswalk at Quay West.

His report went on to say “it is anticipated that the available budget would be adequate for two or possibly three crosswalks.”

However, Ron Neufeld, the city’s manager of operations, said after the report was written, he confirmed the pricing of solar-powered crosswalk lights to be $16,000 per light.

“We have an available budget of $23,000 so it’s doubtful we would be able to do two intersections,” Neufeld told council.

Adams pointed out the report said there would be more than enough money to do two, or even three intersections.

“My apologies, that’s my error,” Neufeld said. “When the report was prepared we were under the assumption the lights were around $7,000 each.”

Adams, frustrated by the oversight, said if there was only enough money in the budget for one light, he would prefer it to be at the crosswalk by Quay West.

“The number of near misses I’ve seen near Ridge Rider of people trying to cross to Robert Ostler Park is too many for my liking,” Adams said.

Cornfield said he’d prefer council to stick with city staff’s interpretation of the funding allocation.

“I’m a little bit disappointed, I thought the entrance to the Pier parking lot was going to be improved,” Cornfield said. “I thought the $23,000 was to fix that intersection. I was pleased with the original one.”

In the end, Adams made a motion for both crosswalks to be funded, but in the event money runs out, to first install pedestrian lights at the Quay West crosswalk. The motion was passed by council.