Emery Shipmaker and Xanna Marjoribanks address Salmon Arm Council on Aug. 24, 2020 to present more than $200 they raised from a lemonade and cookie stand for a crosswalk at the intersection of Lakeshore Road and 50th Avenue NE. (Martha Wickett - Salmon Arm Observer)

Salmon Arm Council denies girls’ request for crosswalk on Lakeshore Road

City opts for vegetation removal so sight lines will be clearer

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. They did not come empty-handed. 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 to council 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 and if the city should accept the girls’ contribution of funds. 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.”

Read more: Girls raise funds for crosswalk on busy Salmon Arm road

Read more: City seeing demand for flashing beacons at Salmon Arm crosswalks

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. The committee recommended that a crosswalk not be installed and that vegetation be removed along the east side of Lakeshore Road to improve sight lines.

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.

“So there is no warrant for a crosswalk there but we are going to clear the bush and trees so that people jaywalking can get across the road or people biking can get across the road safely?” he asked.

City engineer Jenn Wilson said yes, but noted it’s not the same as downtown or high-density residential crossings.

“It is assumed when you have intersections that you will have users crossing at that location. It’s the number of users per hour that triggers these warrants (for crosswalks) or the connectivity to high use areas…”

He asked about flashing lights or other measures, but Wilson said the city has a recent and comprehensive report that lists criteria and highest risk intersections and this is not one of them.

Mayor Alan Harrison said he thinks a crosswalk would make the crossing more dangerous as children would feel safe and would be crossing without an adult.

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.

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