Following a pedestrian death and calls from some people to improve safety along the McGill corridor, the city is looking into the issue.
On Monday, the city’s development and sustainability committee directed staff to report back with a series of short-, medium- and long-term plans for the McGill corridor between Columbia Street and University Drive, by BC Hydro.
(University Drive is a horseshoe-shaped road that intersects McGill at two points — at the university’s west and east entrances.)
Committee member Coun. Dieter Dudy called it a “dangerous piece of road for people to be walking.” On Nov. 15, Thompson Rivers University academic advisor Lucy Phua died after being struck by a pickup truck while crossing McGill at University Drive East a marked crosswalk. After her death, a public petition advocating enhancements to pedestrian safety in that area was launched, calling for slower speeds, flashing crosswalks and a school zone to be created near Insight Support Services and the university, in the area of McGill and Dalhousie Drive, between the two University Drive crossings.
To date, about 1,000 people have signed the petition.
Dudy suggested immediate action, such as lowering the speed limit to 40 km/h from 50 km/h or adding rumble strips in front of crosswalks in the area.
“The public wants some answers and they want them quickly,” he said.
The committee heard from city staff that safety is a priority and area improvements are already planned, such as crosswalk and sidewalk upgrades and a study of the corridor. The committee heard the sidewalk on the south side of McGill is tied to development. A new development recently given the green light by city council at the corner of McGill and Camosun Crescent, for example, includes pedestrian upgrades.
Still, that takes time and the area is increasingly used by pedestrians — students, university staff and others — as more housing is built along McGill. The city is working toward transitioning the corridor away from industrial uses to multi-use, including residential and commercial.
Coun. Arjun Singh called it a rapidly changing area with much more traffic, one that could be a “marquee place” to showcase active transportation. He said the city needs to balance short- and long-term plans.
Also in city plans is a multi-use pathway along the north side of McGill Road. It is unclear, however, when work on that project could get underway.
City engineering manager Deven Matkowski said the city does not wish to start that project prior to having the results of the McGill corridor study, should the area need to be reworked entirely. The university has apparently asked the city for traffic-calming measures in the area, such as reducing traffic to one lane in each direction and adding parking. Amidst calls for short-term solutions from Dudy, the committee heard the city has a $300,000 annual budget for safety improvements. One past project included work at Fortune Drive and Eighth Street in North Kamloops.
City CAO David Trawin noted something as simple as lighting could help to improve the area in the short-term.
When staff returns with its series of short-, medium- and long-term plans for the McGill corridor between Columbia Street and University Drive, those recommendations will also go to the city’s Traffic Advisory Committee, made up of city staff, Kamloops RCMP, Ministry of Transportation and Infrastructure, Kamloops Fire Rescue and ICBC.
Coun. Sadie Hunter also called on residents to wear high-visibility clothing while walking the streets during the dark days of winter, having herself experienced some close calls as of late.