Posted on 18 July 2012 by Keith Lacey
Town of Osoyoos council has decided to erect a gate that will stop vehicular traffic from accessing Jackpine Lane after more complaints of drivers repeatedly speeding in the quiet residential neighbourhood on the east side of town.
“I’m ecstatic without question,” said Phil Craft, who made a presentation to members of council’s committee of the whole meeting Monday morning. “This has been a long time coming and I’m just glad council was willing to listen to us because it was an accident waiting to happen.”
Coun. Michael Ryan introduced a motion to control traffic on Jackpine Lane by erecting a gate that will block traffic from accessing the full length of the lane.
The new gate will be erected after public notification of council’s decision is advertised in the Osoyoos Times over the next couple of weeks.
“This is being done clearly with the intent of improving public safety,” said Ryan.
Mayor Stu Wells said the issue of speeding on Jackpine Lane has been of serious concern for many years and too many people still insist on driving too fast and posing a threat to pedestrians, cyclists and homeowners in the area, so council has no choice but to vote to block off the road.
“If you are concerned, get a hold of us and we will make sure all public concern is received” but he’s comfortable with council’s decision to block access to Jackpine Lane, said Wells.
Discussions will continue with the local volunteer fire department, RCMP, ambulance and Town of Osoyoos staff to ensure they will be able to open the new gate at all times and gain access, he said.
This decision is going to save someone from being killed or seriously injured, said Craft.
“You’re going to have to stop this because someone is going to get killed, trust me,” said Craft, who has lived in a home on Jackpine Lane for many years.
Craft was joined during his council presentation by neighbour Tony Willems.
Speeding drivers have been causing havoc for many years on Jackpine Lane and it’s only a matter of time before someone is seriously injured or worse, as signs have been posted and a large speed bump erected over the past couple of years, but they haven’t worked, said Craft.
“That is not working whatsoever,” said Craft. “People are not paying attention to the signs and we still have people flying up and down that alley. They come speeding down the alley, slow down for the speed bump and hit the gas again. This hasn’t stopped anything honestly.”
There are many children who ride their bikes and play on Jackpine Lane and numerous seniors who walk along this roadway and he remains very worried a serious incident is going to happen unless further action is taken, said Craft.
“We have to address this … there have been way too many close calls,” he said. “We don’t want somebody coming to this town and going home with one less because something terrible happens. As it stands now, it’s really unsafe, really, really unsafe.”
Willems echoed the same thoughts.
“I’m getting fed up with it,” he said. “One day I’m just going to explode.”
Craft said council has worked hard to try and alleviate the problem with speeding drivers on Jackpine Lane over the past couple of years, but further action is needed.
“We have to stop the speeding,” he said. “It has gone too far. This is very, very serious stuff.”
Council discussed the options of erecting a gate to allow traffic only to emergency personnel from the fire department, ambulance, police and town crews picking up garbage, erecting one or more new speed bumps or closing off Jackpine Lane to regular traffic.
Wells said he’s heard about speeding problems along Jackpine Lane for many years and his preference would be to close the laneway to traffic, but this would have to include public discussion and further talks with emergency providers as they would need access in case of emergencies in the area.
Coun. Michael Ryan believes a second, bigger speed bump would be sufficient to slow down traffic.
From his discussions with the local fire department, police and ambulance personnel, they are not in favour of closing down a road entirely, said Ryan.
“At the very least we could maybe add a couple more speed bumps,” he said.
Wells said this is a frustrating situation because former and current councillors have worked hard to try and alleviate the problem, yet drivers refuse to get the message and slow down.
“It’s not like we haven’t taken any action,” he said. “We have taken small steps, but obviously it hasn’t cleaned up the problem.”
Craft said he’s personally talked with RCMP management and leaders with the local volunteer fire department and they would not have a problem with Jackpine Lane being blocked off to vehicular traffic and turned into a cul de sac.
It’s unfortunate that a small percentage of drivers who insist on disobeying the law have caused so many problems over the years, but the reality is this has become a very dangerous stretch of road because of speeding vehicles, said Craft.
Because his home is located only metres from where the current speed bump sits and where the gate is expected to be erected to block through traffic, Willems told members of council he would have no problem with emergency vehicles or garbage trucks using his driveway to turn around when they need to access certain parts of Jackpine Lane.
Any road closure would have to involve public consultation and likely won’t result in any changes until the fall, said chief administrative officer Barry Romanko.
Because of this, it’s not expected the gate which will be erected to block traffic will be erected until sometime in the fall.
Craft said he understands the process and only hopes no one gets hurt before the new gate is erected.