Two Salmon Arm girls won’t be getting the crosswalk they requested, but they have sparked action intended to be a safer option.
On Aug. 24, Emily Shipmaker and Xanna Marjoribanks came to city council with their request for a crosswalk on Lakeshore Road at 50th Avenue NE. With them they brought $216.55 that they and their friends had raised at a lemonade and cookie stand to help pay for the installation.
They explained that their parents don’t allow them to cross the road to get to the Foreshore Trail or a nearby park because Lakeshore is busy and drivers speed. They said if kids from lower Raven want to ride the bus, they must cross dangerous Lakeshore.
Coun. Chad Eliason had suggested that the $700 needed to put in a crosswalk be taken out of the council initiatives fund. However, discussion ensued about whether a crosswalk would be the safest option. Council asked city staff to investigate and bring back a recommendation.
At council’s Sept. 14 meeting, staff recommended that the request for a crosswalk be denied. Instead, the report suggested the city remove vegetation on the east side of Lakeshore Drive adjacent to 1611 50th Ave. NE and send letters to owners of that property and at 4971 Lakeshore regarding maintenance of vegetation in the boulevard.
The staff report stated: “Traffic marking and signage only makes a crossing marginally safer by alerting drivers to potential crossings without reducing the hazard, but can make pedestrians feel a lot safer and therefore less aware of the hazard.”
The report noted that the city’s traffic safety committee, with members from ICBC, the RCMP, the school district, driving instructors and the city, had received a similar request in November 2019 for a crosswalk for children using the bus stop at the Raven Hill sign.
City engineer Jenn Wilson said the issue is a personal one for her as her five-year-old will be using the bus stop there. She said it’s necessary to take the emotion out of the decision, however, noting that low levels of use and lack of connectivity to trails do not warrant a crosswalk. She said one in a low-use area would also dilute the effects of other crossing installations in town.
Coun. Chad Eliason lobbied for the crosswalk.
City council discussed the next steps at length, expressing appreciation for the girls’ presentation and, in the end, splitting the plans into two motions. One, whether to deny the crosswalk and two, whether to have the vegetation removed.
With Coun. Debbie Cannon absent, the motion to deny the crosswalk was a tie, with Mayor Alan Harrison and Couns. Tim Lavery and Kevin Flynn in favour of denying. Couns. Eliason, Louise Wallace Richmond and Sylvia Lindgren voted against denying the crosswalk.
The vote to remove the vegetation and clear the sight lines passed unanimously.