A Kamloops resident is circulating a petition calling for enhancements to pedestrian safety along McGill Road after a Thompson Rivers University employee was struck and killed by a vehicle while in a crosswalk along the street.
Heather MacCollum's petition is calling for slower speeds, flashing crosswalks and a school zone along McGill near Insight Support Services and the university.
MacCollum said she was spurred to take action following the death of TRU academic advisor Lucy Phua.
The 53-year-old woman died after being hit by a pickup truck while crossing McGill at University Drive, near the Landmark condo development, just before 5:30 p.m. on Nov. 15.
For MacCollum, speed and visibility have been issues along the corridor for some time.
She told KTW one of her sons attends Insight, a special-needs school across McGill from the Tournament Capital Centre, and she has noticed drivers speeding along the four-lane route.
MacCollum noted McGill sees a large volume of pedestrian traffic crossing to and from Thompson Rivers University, the Children’s Therapy Centre, Insight and the TCC, in addition to customers visiting other restaurants and businesses. She said the corridor can also be quite dark at night, when there are plenty of TRU students still out walking to and from campus.
MacCollum said she wants the city to review the population change in the area around TRU, consider adding a school zone for Insight Support Services and/or reduced speeds on McGill and adding flashing crosswalks to alert drivers of pedestrian crossings.
Coun. Arjun Singh, who chairs the city’s development and sustainability council committee, was contacted by MacCollum and said her concerns will be addressed at the committee’s Dec. 10 meeting.
“Heather has done a really good thing in advocating for some changes,” Singh said, adding the committee will take her suggestions and others into consideration and determine what actions they might suggest to council.
He said the broader topic of pedestrian safety in Kamloops will also be discussed, noting similar issues exist elsewhere in the city.
“We want to make sure that people all across the community are feeling safe,” Singh said.
He said the city is always working to address pedestrian safety in town, but noted Phua’s death has created added impetus to examine the issue.
Singh said the number of people living along McGill has increased substantially, noting the new housing developments that have risen along McGill both on and off campus, making that corridor important for the city to consider.
TRU communications manager Darshan Lindsey told KTW via email that traffic around campus is a subject at regular meetings the university has with city officials. She said TRU officials recognize the growth of not only TRU, but other new developments in the area.
“These are not new discussions with the city, but rather ongoing,” she said.
City of Kamloops chief administrative officer David Trawin said the city and TRU have had discussions regarding changes to make McGill Road more pedestrian-orientated in the future.
The city is installing a sidewalk along McGill in front of the Children’s Therapy Centre and adding a sidewalk along the south side of McGill between Dalhousie Drive and Hillside Drive is in Kamloops’ transportation master plan.
Also in that document is a proposed pedestrian overpass along Summit Drive between the university and Upper College Heights student housing. Students continue to jaywalk across Summit on the way to and from TRU.
“That overpass is the number one priority for the next big project,” Trawin said.
Trawin said simply reducing the speed limit on an arterial route like McGill, designed for a 50 km/h speed limit, sometimes doesn’t work in getting motorists to reduce their speed.
He said a better strategy would be implementing the three E’s: enforcement, engineering and education.
That engineering portion could involve narrowing road lines, reducing the number of lanes and adding bikes lanes.
Trawin said when the city receives requests such as MacCollum’s, its transportation advisory committee — composed the city, RCMP, ICBC, School District 73 and other agencies — will typically review the request, determine which suggestions are practical to implement and pass that feedback along to the development and sustainability council committee.
City development director Marvin Kwiatkowski said the city will usually receive a copy of the coroner’s report in situations such as the Nov. 15 death, which could contain with recommendations for improvements if there are any to make.
“Typically that’s what we wait for,” he said.
Not having received that report yet, Kwiatkowski said he’s not jumping to conclusions, noting the accident could have been the result of multiple factors.
Bikes lanes on McGill Road and a pedestrian overpass across Summit Drive or a barrier to prevent jaywalkers are suggestions TRU business professor Amy Tucker believes should be implemented.
Having worked at TRU since 2001, Tucker said she’s seen an increase in pedestrian and vehicle traffic around the university over the years.
One trend she’s noticed is that due to a limited amount of parking on campus, people often park elsewhere and walk to campus.
Tucker believes McGill Road from Summit Drive to Hillside Drive should have a 30 km/h speed limit, noting people tend to speed on the road.
She would also like to see a flashing crosswalk between University Drive and the Landmark building where Phua was struck.
MacCollum believes people will have more confidence using the facilities in the area with enhancements to crosswalks.
“If we can prevent further incidences from what has already happened, that would be awesome,” she said.