One resident wants action taken by the province’s transportation ministry on a Hope intersection, before he fears things could turn deadly.
Wayne Kurchaba said he was in an accident at the corner of 6 Avenue and Old Hope Princeton Way July 26. “Every intersection there was jammed solid,” he said of the scene on that particular Sunday. “People were trying to turn right, people were trying to get into Starbucks, people were trying to pull out of Starbucks, people were trying to get across the highway to Chevron, people were trying to cross to get to Dollarama, people were trying to turn left onto 6 to get towards the tracks and people were going straight through like I was.”
According to Kurchaba, as he attempted to continue through on Old Hope Princeton Way, having the right of way, a Range Rover went through from the stop sign on 6 Avenue headed to Starbucks. Kurchaba ended up colliding with the vehicle in the intersection. As the two were sorting things out following the accident, Kurchaba said he saw an elderly couple crossing and a motorcycle roll through the intersection near them without stopping.
While both Kurchaba and the driver and passenger of the Range Rover were able to emerge from the accident unharmed, Kurchaba’s vehicle had to be towed away. He is now calling for action by the district and the province, to install a traffic light at the intersection before a worse accident happens.
Four-way traffic lights is the ask, from the district to the province
The district wants four-way traffic lights installed at this intersection, chief administrative officer John Fortoloczky confirmed. “Ideally, the option for advance turning signals will be included to allow modification if desired later,” he added. The process was started in July 2018.
Whether the district will be contributing financially to the traffic lights is still to be determined. While Old Hope Princeton Way is under the Ministry of Transportation and Infrastructure’s (MOTI) jurisdiction, 6 Avenue is within the district’s jurisdiction.
In response to councillor Victor Smith at a July 27 council meeting, Fortoloczky said meetings are happening with the province. “We have made them aware of all the concerns that the public and certainly council have, and staff, regarding safe traffic control,” he said. “They are in the engineering and traffic study stage. They don’t believe that it is likely it will happen before March 31.” He added that a traffic count was done over the BC Day long weekend, and another update to council on this file will come sometime in August.
In an emailed response to questions from the Hope Standard about a timeline and what exactly the province is proposing to put in at the intersection, the ministry stated they are “currently assessing traffic data (collected on Aug. 1) from the Old Hope Princeton Highway/6th Avenue intersection to determine what safety improvements could be implemented.” The ministry did not respond to questions about what exact infrastructure could be put in or what the timeline for this project is.
With the funding for installing the lights not present in the 2020-2021 provincial budget, Fortoloczky stated the district is “very much advocating it be included in the 2021/22 provincial budget.”
Councillor Smith, whom Kurchaba spoke with after the accident, said the intersection is certainly a concern for himself and other district councillors. “We’re just hoping that nobody gets seriously hurt,” he said, adding he’s aware that the CAO is working on this file and that the bureacracy at the ministry can be ‘a little deeper than you like it to be.’
“Our hands are tied, we’re just hoping that it happens sooner rather than later,” he said.
Councillor Bob Erikson said waiting to get word from the province is ‘very frustrating’ as there are constantly questions about the file from residents and little information from the province. Erikson said he wants to know “exactly where they are at, what’s the installation date and time, what’s the cost and…when do we expect this to be completed.”
Erikson added what cost, if any, the district would have to fork out for the intersection upgrades are unknown and is not in the district’s budget yet.
“It’s a very dangerous intersection right now, especially with that new Dollarama put in and now we’re getting a new gas station put in and another 45 or 48 bed low-income housing going in,” he said. “We’re all concerned, I mean you can talk to any councillor, we’re all the same. We want to know what’s going on, we want to get this solved.”
Development continues, around ‘dangerous’ intersection
Development around the intersection has continued apace since the beginning of the year.
A Dollarama retail location opened July 21 in the same retail complex Starbucks is located within at 590 Old Hope Princeton Way.
A block down on the same side of the street, a proposed 52-unit supportive housing build put forward by BC Housing will go to the public hearing phase this fall. On the opposite side at 715 Old Hope Princeton Way a 7/11 convenience store and gas station is under construction, as is the Mamele’awt Qweesome & To’o Housing Society (MQHS) Housing Society development.
Further down at 950 Old Hope Princeton Way, a developer said he is taking steps towards building a condo, commercial and hotel development starting with a Best Western hotel.
For the time being, Kurchaba is wondering whether there are other ways to make the intersection safer. He wants to see people get in touch with local councillors, as well as the province, in efforts to save a person’s life.
“Whoever hits that little kid on a little bike, they’ve got to live with that for the rest of their life because the province is too cheap to put up lights,” he said of a potential accident scenario, adding he has warned his mom not to drive in this area during the weekends.
“It’s a dangerous corner, everyone is complaining about it, everyone is scared that someone they know or someone is going to get killed. It’s going to happen,” Kurchaba said.
Fortoloczky stated that the district is monitoring safety trends at the intersection, cooperating with agencies including MOTI, the RCMP and ICBC.
“Should these concerns require immediate action, we will work with the province to enact them,” he stated, adding that controlling traffic along Old Hope Princeton Way is strictly provincial jurisdiction.
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