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!
I wanted to take a moment to inform you of recent events regarding mail delivery in our neighbourhood. For reasons unknown to us, our street – the 1000 block of Gatensbury Rd – has recently been deemed “a danger to deliver mail” zone. We received no advance warning, not even a note from Canada Post telling us about this decision and why it was made. We just noticed that our mail hadn’t been delivered for over a week and wondered why? We called Canada Post, we emailed them, we filled out online tickets about the problem and no one was able to even tell us about the decision. They all knew nothing. It wasn’t until one of our residents went down to the Post Office to see what the problem might be that they told him of this decision.
People have been living on this street for over 30 years and never heard of such a thing. We have senior citizens in their 90s who have been getting mail continuously all this time and who don’t have the ability to just truck on down to the post office in Port Coquitlam, where we now have to go to get our mail ourselves. And the Post office is only open 9-5 on weekdays so getting it is a major problem for people who work normal jobs.
We want to know how or why this decision was made so suddenly and whether the city of Port Moody is willing to address this problem with us? For years, residents on this hill have been asking for a proper sidewalk so that they weren’t constantly exposed to cars speeding up and down the hill as they walked along the side of the road. In our minds, there is a serious accident here just waiting to happen to some cyclist or pedestrian. And now, the Post Office has deemed us a danger zone, apparently because they have decided there is no place for their carriers to safely walk while delivering mail.
What we have been told is that the costs could only be expended if our taxes were raised to pay for it, and we’re talking millions of dollars! How many other city residents have had to pay to have the city put in a sidewalk on their street? In fact, there is a sidewalk which goes part way up the hill on the East side of the street and then it just stops. For no apparent reason.
We also noticed that almost all the other roads in our neighbourhood at the bottom of the hill were repaved this past spring and summer and we thought, finally, Gatensbury Rd will get the kind of attention it desperately needs. But again, no, the repaving stopped right where Gatensbury Rd starts.
And in just a few more months time, the Evergreen Line, will be operating, with a station at the bottom of our hill on Clarke St. The traffic is already bad on this hill, which was never designed for this volume. What is going to happen when people start using the sky train – driving or walking to and from it?
We ask that council start seriously thinking about our street and possible solutions to the many problems it faces now and will continue to face in the future.
Thank you for your time and attention to this matter.