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Crosswalk solution nixed

The proposed changes to the crosswalk at McBride Boulevard and Columbia Street recommended by city staff but rejected by council. - City of New Westminster report
The proposed changes to the crosswalk at McBride Boulevard and Columbia Street recommended by city staff but rejected by council.
— image credit: City of New Westminster report

A solution to a “dangerous crosswalk” has been rejected by New Westminster city council.

The city’s engineering staff recommended the pedestrian and cyclist crossing on McBride Boulevard and Columbia Street be realigned.

But that option was defeated in a narrow vote because it would have meant the removal of three metres of the Woodlands heritage stone wall.

The crosswalk is located up the hill from the intersection. City staff recommended it be moved to the corner to make pedestrians and cyclists more visible to drivers turning right off Columbia.

Many turn on red lights even though it is illegal.

However, moving it to the corner would have required pedestrians and cyclists traverse a steep incline to connect to the Central Valley Greenway above the wall.

So staff recommended a three-metre portion be cut out of the wall to decrease the degree of difficulty.

That solution was not acceptable to some councillors.

“I don’t want to see any of the wall taken down, thank you very much,” said Coun. Lorrie Williams.

She suggested putting up a big, blinking sign to warn drivers.

Coun. Betty McIntosh said she liked a California solution which warns drivers when someone’s in the crosswalk.

But city engineering staff said the device isn’t approved in Canada.

Coun. Jonathan Coté was upset the recommendation was rejected and a motion to explore other options was approved. He acknowledged the heritage issue but pointed out only three per cent of the wall would be removed.

“For that small impact is it really worth creating a dangerous situation for pedestrians in a major greenway that crosses our city?” said Coté, who received support from Mayor Wayne Wright and Coun. Chuck Puchmayr in his position.

“We have gone down that route with signage to improve the significant safety concerns at that intersection. People are not obeying those rules ... We have to address the underlying issue which is we have a visibility problem. Drivers cannot see people crossing that intersection.”

He disagreed that bigger signs or flashing lights would fix the problem.

He also rejected council’s decision to explore other options.

“In my opinion it was a motion to look like we were doing something when we’re not,” Coté said Wednesday.

Sapperton resident Vince Kreiser uses the crosswalk on a regular basis.

He originally brought the problem to council’s attention and was happy with the staff recommendation. He was not happy it was rejected.

“I hate to say it, somebody’s going to get hurt before they do something. That’s unfortunate. It’s too bad but what are you going to do?” said Kreiser. “I’m frustrated with the whole process.”

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