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!
As the story of the safety issues on Gatensbury Rd continues to unfold, first introduced by me here in this post, we are heartened to see that we are still making news, although no longer on the front page.
I want to personally take a moment to thank Tri-City News reporter, Sarah Payne for her excellent coverage and willingness to keep following this story with and for us.
And this excellent editorial, which was published on Dec 1st, also in the TCN, is another example of the kind of support that the community is showing for the problems we are facing.
It’s a bit ironic that it took such a small thing, the failure to deliver our mail because of one postal worker’s safety concerns, to bring such a large issue back to light again. But it was the hook that caught the community’s imagination; kind of like the last straw that breaks the camel’s back.
This issue first came before City Council in 2007, and was brought up again by Lori Holdenried in 2010 and both times previous, it was noted and forgotten. *(see note below)
As noted in the article pictured above, this past Tuesday, Dec 8th, a delegation of about 10 residents including Lori, myself and others both youngsters and oldsters, appeared at City Council’s monthly and last meeting of 2015 to further appeal our case for addressing the issue of safety on our section of roadway.
After our presentation, all 6 councillors and Mayor Clay had extensive questions and comments for us. As councillor Diana Dillworth noted, our concern is valid, but without a political will to address it, it WILL be passed over again or not fully addressed. The political reality is this; any of the solutions we are considering will cost money, a fairly substantial amount, and that means if they assign the money to our problem, it has to come from somewhere. That somewhere is other projects that money has been budgeted and allocated to. So there needs to be some thought and negotiation as to how to actually proceed.
We appreciate that fact. We also know that it will not be solved overnight. What is most important is that the safety issues of Gatensbury Rd. don’t fall off the radar screen again and fade into nothingness. We all feel that there is a serious tragedy that is just waiting to happen and we’d like to take the ounce of prevention here instead of having to respond with a pound of cure, because such an event occurs.
To this end, we were quite pleased with 2 positive outcomes from our appearance before the Mayor and City Council:
That council unanimously passed a motion to have traffic safety on our street added to the Traffic Safety Committee’s 2016 work plan
That Mark Halpin, transportation planner- engineering division, met with us in the hall after the meeting to assure us that he will personally bring our concerns forward in future TSC meetings.
As they say, “the squeaky wheel gets the grease” and as I personally assured the Mayor and Council, we will continue to keep squeaking!!
Thanks for listening. Please share if you’d like to help with our squeaking 🙂
* Lori just corrected me and sent me a wonderful pdf “Moody Centre Neighborhood Traffic Study: Final Report, 2007. I’ll be sharing some of the report’s studies and conclusions in future blogs. If you’d like a copy of it, just contact me via comments and I’ll email it to you.
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.