Last night I attended the Port Moody City Council meeting because I noticed on the agenda that there was an item about banning commercial truck traffic from Gatensbury Road.
Item 9.5a – Gatensbury Road, Commercial Heavy Truck Ban
Since I have taken on the task of helping to keep the safety of our road on Council’s agenda until we see significant improvements in that direction, I felt obliged to attend.
I was also tired of hearing complaints from my step daughters about how dark it is walking up the hill from St. John’s Street in the evening. They kept talking about how the street lights only seem to work sporadically and come on and off with no warning and how they are often in the dark, literally, when they walk home. They have resorted to wearing colourful flashing lights to help ensure they are seen by oncoming drivers. In particular, the 2 sharp curves are especially lacking in lighting.
So, during the public input session at the beginning of the meeting I thanked them for considering the truck issue and mentioned about the street lights and how they don’t seem to be working well enough to light the street for our night time pedestrians to feel safe.
The response pleasantly surprised me. The Mayor looked behind him at where the staff sat, indicated that transportation would deal with it, and they further assured me they would look into it immediately, like the very next day! OK!! I like that 🙂
On to the discussion of eliminating heavy truck traffic from Gatensbury Road. In the agenda there is an excellent couple of paragraphs with background information from previous reports on Gatensbury Road.
After a bit of council discussion, the motion was unanimously approved. Of course, enforcement is an entirely different issue but at least signage will be in place and tickets can be issued if offenders are caught. If you’d like to listen to the discussion you can do so here. Bottom line is that now heavy trucks can no longer assume Gatensbury Road is a route for them to transit between Coquitlam and Port Moody.
And there is a role for ordinary citizens to help ensure this comes to pass. If anyone notices a truck in violation, the recommendation is to note the license plate number and report them with a call or email to Coquitlam Bylaw Enforcement division if they are heading North to Port Moody or to the City of Port Moody Bylaw Enforcement division if they are headed South to Coquitlam.
It’s a small step forward but I’m happy to see it being taken. My thanks – and I’m sure those of other Gatensbury Road residents – to the Mayor and Council for making this happen.
Well there we were, a few days before Christmas and lo and behold, in our mailbox was the following letter from Canada Post detailing the solution they had arrived at after looking at Gatensbury Road’s safety issues.
At first glance, it looks like our mail problems have been satisfactorily solved. What you don’t see in this letter, is that they never once consulted with any of us street residents. They just came up with a solution independent of the people it actually affects.
Is that the way we do things in Canada?! I’d like to think not.
How does this affect us? For starters, we keep referring to one of our home owners who is in her 90’s. Now she has to figure out how to get down to the bottom of the hill to get her mail and then get back up again. Of course, many of us will volunteer to help her out but that’s not a real solution for her or the other residents on the hill.
Let’s be realistic here; am I going to drive my car a few hundred metres down the hill to get my mail? Of course not! When I do happen to drive down on another errand I can pick it up on my return but that’s kind of inconvenient. Mostly I’ll walk down and get it and walk back up again.
But wait a minute…..Our street isn’t safe to walk up and down! And so the conundrum continues.
We could accept some kind of solution like this as a stop gap measure but what we really need is to sit down and work with all the parties involved to make our street safer so mail can be delivered safely. But it doesn’t look like that’s going to happen in the immediate future.
And can you remember anytime Canada Post actually met with the people it serves to ask them how to best accommodate their needs? No time that I know of, anyway.
Oh, and what about the security of these so called “super mailboxes”? The CBC gave a report from 2 years ago that outlined just how secure they really aren’t. There’s a great interactive map detailing thefts from all over British Columbia in that report. Another one from Abbotsford about repeated break-ins at a cluster of mailboxes. It seems break-ins and thefts are particularly common at tax time. Identity theft and all that.
So what should we do about this? Not just sit back and say “OK, looks like you’ve solved our mail problem” because they haven’t. I’m going to be very upset if a parcel or amil was delivered to my box and then stolen because I was at the office working when it was delivered and couldn’t get to it before the thieves.
On the positive side, they do seem to have solved their employee safety issue and for that, I DO commend them. Employee safety is an ongoing and important concern that always needs to be revisited. The last thing we want is a mail carrier to be hit by a moving vehicle while performing their job in our’s or any other neighborhood.
Now they just need to take a few more steps and consult with not only their employees and their experts, but with the residents, too.
If you haven’t been following my story about the street I live on, Gatensbury Rd, in Port Moody, BC, you might want to start here and catch up on the issues before you continue reading this post. Or not. Hopefully, this post will give you a bit more information.
I certainly learned a lot while doing the research for it!
Setting the Stage
On the FaceBook page dedicated to our road’s issues, Lori’s slide presentation, and during our appearance before council, I kept hearing Gatensbury road referred to as a Collector road. And I realized I had no idea what they were talking about. Did that mean that garbage and recycling was collected there? Did this mean it was valuable and people wanted to keep it for themselves? Was this a government term?
Ok, time to do some research. So I did a bit of internet “googling” and came up with a whole bunch of interesting information. I even learned a new word – grubbing – which refers to digging up and removing trees and shrubs and their roots to clear the roadbed when it’s being prepared during layout and construction. Comes from the verb, to grub, which is derived from those pesky insect larvae, you know, the grubs! Really, no lie! I like that name, The Grubs. Sounds like it should be a new TV show about a down-to-earth family (pun intended).
But I digress. So what did I learn?
Different Kinds of Roads
I found a document on the British Columbia Ministry of Transportation site that deals with access and design.
Drilling down to the Supplement to TAC…. I found this in the Table of Contents:
Ah! Now we’re getting somewhere! The 3 designations that are most relevant to the issues we face are the classifications for Arterial/Primary, Collector/Secondary, and Local.
Gatensbury Road is a Collector Road
Here’s the descriptions of the classifications.
1420.02 ROAD CLASSIFICATION
A general term denoting a road primarily for through traffic usually on a continuous route. Direct access to abutting land is not a priority.
A road that provides for traffic movement between arterials and local streets with some direct access to adjacent property.
A road primarily for access to residences, businesses, or other abutting property.
So now we have working definitions of the kinds of roads we’re dealing with here. Let’s keep this information to hand as we take a look at how Gatensbury Road is situated re the issues we face.
A Closer Look
If you look at the google map image above, you can see that there are 2 East-West arterial roads, St. Johns Street and Como Lake Avenue. For vehicles to transit North-South between them there are only 4 Collector roads. Going from West to East they are Clarke, Gatensbury, Moray/Thermal, and Mariner. Here’s a link if you want to see even more detail. Important to note is the fact that both Clarke St and Moray/Thermal have a continuous sidewalk between Como Lake Ave and St Johns St.
If you look at the terrain, you can see why the roads are routed the way they are. They are the best ways to go, although looking at the map there might be possibilities to link up the Northeast terminus of Harbour Drive or Fresno Place to Terra Vista Place.
Unfortunately, just looking at the map doesn’t really tell me whether the terrain or geological conditions would favour such linkups. But even if it was possible and you did do that, Harbour Drive would not be considered a Collector Road because along most of its length it is a local road with single family homes and a few side streets. And I suspect many of the residents would strongly resist such a connection.
Ok, back to Gatensbury road.
Zooming in on the map above shows that Gatensbury Road is indeed a Collector/Secondary Road as defined above.
Not only that, but according to Google’s Live traffic indications, the traffic on Gatensbury is fast! That is not so surprising because even though the speed limit along the entire length of Gatensbury Road is posted at 30 km/hour official measurements have the average vehicle speed at 54 km/hour! Think about that for a second. An average means that some cars go slower and some go faster. What that means is that for every time somebody drives 30 km/hr, someone else has driven the same route at 78 km/hr!! And make no mistake about it, I have seen cars that are being driven that fast both up and down our road.
Also, you’ll notice that on the lower and Northernmost half, it is designated as a road and on the uppermost and Southernmost half, it is a street. This a minor technicality because that is where the border between Coquitlam and Port Moody lies and in Coquitlam it is named Gatensbury Street. That does not affect its Collector Road classification.
Evergreen Line Ramifications
One thing I’d like you to take notice of is the train tracks just North of Clarke St. On Clarke St between Mary St and Grant St is where one of the new skytrain stations for the Evergreen Line is being built. The Evergreen Line will be operational within the next year or so. Right now the weekday traffic on Gatensbury averages about 6,000 vehicles per day. We can only assume that once the Evergreen Line starts operating, traffic on Gatensbury will increase to access the station.
That means more cars, driving rapidly up and down our street and more pedestrians going to and from the skytrain station. Like I said in my previous post, this is a tragedy in the making.
Now we all know what a Collector Road is and what purpose it serves. Gatensbury Road is definitely a Collector Road and our citizens use and value it as such.
When we appeared before council (Item 3, fast forward to minute 20:50) , one of the suggestions by Mayor Clay was to change the designation and close the road to traffic or just make it one way, etc. As I told him there, I think that is too simplistic a solution to just suggest without giving it a bit more study and thought. It does, however, have some merit and is worth considering. In the final analysis though, I don’t think this will solve all our problems, just a couple of them. And it will create others, some of which we can’t even envision at the moment.
I think this is a good place to end this post. In the next “chapter” of this ongoing story I’d like to delve a bit into local transportation plan history and discuss the recommendations from previous studies and strategy plans.
I hope you’re having as much fun following this story as I am in having in telling it!
In our mailbox, yesterday! And 10 days after the fact….
On my way to work yesterday, I ran into a reporter from the Tri-City News, Sarah and Lori, a neighbour, who were there to further research the situation and take pictures as a result of the copy of my letter and a phone conversation I had with Sarah. Here’s the story that came from their investigations! Nicely stated.
Just to put this into perspective, the post office where they are holding our mail is about a 20 minute drive from where we live!
So, things are moving along and as they say “the squeaky wheel gets the grease”! Question is, just what kind of grease is best in this situation? I’m not 100% sure but I know we can’t continue as if nothing has happened and as if there is not a concern that needs to be addressed on all sides.
Re the postal delivery, I think the best solution would be to locate a cluster of mail boxes on the side of the road, central to our houses, that we could ALL walk to. There are at least 2 locations that would work for that solution to the mail problem.
But that doesn’t address the issue re the overall safety for pedestrians who walk up and down Gatensbury Rd. This issue is not going to go away and I will keep hounding officials until we see some kind of resolution.
Ok, this is my first “rant”. I can’t see any reason why hikers are not allowed into the watersheds in BC. What does the government actually hope to accomplish by this? It’s a long-standing policy that to my way of seeing, really doesn’t accomplish what it proclaims to do, namely protect the water from mischief and contamination.
Let’s say they wanted to protect it from contamination. Sounds good, I don’t want to drink contaminated water. But can a group of hikers really contaminate something like a watershed? Let’s consider all the other animals likely to reside there: racoons, snakes, mice, voles, bears, cougars, deer, moose, coyotes, squirrels, birds, reptiles, etc. Guess what, they all poop in the watershed! And they pee in there, too. OMG! No wonder so many people buy bottled water. Of course, that’s another rant I’ll get to in the future – bottled water!!
Ok, so I go into the watershed with a group of hikers, say 15 (I never hike with that many people but just for argument), and we all poop in the woods and pee there, too. If we’re like most hikers, we’re looking for places where we won’t be seen when we do our business- which usually means hidden behind some tree. We dig a hole or scrape aside the ground cover, do what we have to, and then scrape the ground cover back into place to hide what we just did and nature takes care of the rest. The chances of contaminating the reservoir/watershed is very remote.
But in Vancouver, BC, for instance, you might say that we’re a big city and the pressure would be too heavy. Ok, how about a really BIG city like New York City. Ashokan Reservoir is one of the main supplies of drinking water for the residents of New York City. Here’s what they do to protect their watershed:
Its two long walkways provide a panorama of the Catskill Mtns and the pristine Reservoir that serves as the drinking water for NYC. Great for bicycles, walkers and wheelchairs, the two paths are beautiful stretches of wide paved paths that curve for 3 miles along the Ashokan Reservoir.
HUH!!! They actually let people bike and walk along their reservoir. And the people still drink the water?! How……? Well, there are signs restricting direct access as you can see in the photo above.
Ok, must be a fluke. How about London, England?
Most of London’s water still comes from the River Thames and River Lea, with the remainder being abstracted from underground sources.
Hmmm, doesn’t seem to be any limit to access the Thames River either! They filter their water so recreational and industrial use doesn’t seem to be a problem. Their tap water has been declared safe and quite drinkable.
I could come up with many other examples, globally and in our own country.
Ok, what about logging in our watersheds? That might certainly contaminate our water! It took a bit of time – almost 80 years since the establishment of the Greater Vancouver Water District in 1924 – until logging in the watershed was finally banned in 2002.
On Friday, February 8, 2002, members of the GVRD’s Water Committee unanimously passed a recommendation for the GVRD Board to cancel the Amending Indenture, the 1967 logging license agreement with the provincial government.
Well, that’s a relief! People have been denied access since 1926 but logging companies were allowed to put in 100s of kilometres of roads and cut down old-growth forest which destabilized the slopes above our reservoirs but you couldn’t hike in there!!
Why? Hikers and other recreation activities were denied because the Water District Committee felt their no trespassing policy “wisely prevented the public from creating mischief and contaminating the water supply”. I think the general public would have been much more responsible towards their drinking water than the logging companies were. And our continued presence might have been a force for preventing the abuses those companies committed!
What it boils down to for me is that our local government just doesn’t trust it’s own citizens to do the right thing. Very few other places in the world have this kind of complete “no access” restriction to their watershed and for good reason; they trust their people to behave properly. What a concept, trust of citizens to behave in a socially responsible way.
I think British Columbians deserve no less. There are heritage trails in the watershed which should be reopened and trusting people by giving them access is the best way I know of to create a more socially responsible citizenry than putting in policies that promote ill will and mistrust.