SUNDRE – Council heard from a delegation that residents of the downtown apartment complex just north of the Highway 27-Main Avenue corridor between 2nd and 3rd streets NW continue to harbour concerns about the risk of a collision when egressing from the building’s underground parking lot into the adjacent back alley.
In a prior bid to alleviate those safety concerns, the past council had years ago introduced one-way signage for the back lane, which runs eastward from the west entrance on 3rd Street NW behind NAPA Auto Parts.
Addressing council on behalf of the 24-unit Foothills Terrace Condominium Association were the organization’s president, Carol Gorsline, and vice-president, John Bach. About half a dozen others joined in support and sat in the gallery.
“We are definitely looking for some way to slow down the people going the wrong way on our back alley,” said Gorsline.
“We had a bit of an incident that really brought this forward,” she said, adding, “we have tried to talk to people about going the wrong way.”
But many of the motorists who were approached simply replied they’ve always gone that way, she said.
“Well, things change,” she said. “We are looking for safety; we’ve been trying to come up with different ways to make it a little safer for us coming out of our garage.”
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During a previous conversation with mayor Richard Warnock, she said a suggestion to install a caution light when condo residents are pulling out of their garage to warn any oncoming motorists in the alley was brought up as a possibility.
“Better signage was suggested,” she added. “We have also suggested a ticket blitz.”
Warnings, she said, have a limited ability to influence driver behaviour.
“You can give out warnings ’til the cows come home, and there aren’t many of those in town,” she said, with a chuckle. “But if people started getting tickets, the ones that know about it are going to tell their friends, and we might get a little bit better response.”
Bach added that close calls occur all too regularly.
“It is habitual,” he said. “It’s not once a week; it’s many times per day.”
The situation, he added, will only deteriorate when Alberta Transportation’s Highway 27 overlay project gets underway next year and the road is ripped up during the course of construction.
“It’s going to really be something going up and down the alleys,” he said. “This is why we’ve come here early, so maybe we could think about the solution.”
Coming out of the building’s parkade is dangerous and having only one direction of traffic to worry about makes the situation a little safer, he said.
“But when we have two ways to negotiate coming up the slope, it can be pretty hazardous to some of our residents,” he said.
Coun. Paul Isaac asked if the one-way signage at any point since being installed seemed to have had a positive impact.
Although a resident sitting behind the delegates shook his head, Gorsline said she felt introducing the one-way signage “definitely helped.”
Some people have no problem adhering to the one-way, she said, adding it tends to be those who are more firmly set in their ways who refuse.
Coun. Todd Dalke said the Highway 27-Main Avenue businesses that back onto the alley should also be consulted as their patronage is also impacted.
Coun. Owen Petersen spoke in favour of installing lights that would caution any oncoming motorist in the alley when a resident is about to pull out of the underground parking.
“A flashing light may not stop people from going down (the wrong way), but it would slow them and hopefully prevent any collisions,” said Petersen.
“I would even be in support of some degree of enforcement as it is a road and we’ve made a law,” he said.
Coun. Connie Anderson also agreed a warning light would greatly increase visibility and reduce risk, but added that not even all of the condo’s residents respect the eastward one-way lane and that he'd recently seen some proceeding to turn westbound after leaving the parking.
“We know that,” said Gorsline. “And we speak to them as well. Can’t always get everybody to listen.”
The mayor said a solution should be “amicable for everyone.”
Warnock encouraged the association to continue investigating options including cost estimates for installing a flashing light.
“I don’t think, to be honest, we’re going to stop the offenders other than giving them some tickets or getting some lights up to promote the safety you require,” he said.
Following the discussion, a motion was passed directing administration to coordinate with the association on coming up with options to be presented at a later date for council’s consideration.