Viewpoint: Walkers’ safety an issue

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By JENNY MCCLEAN

I see that we are replacing the family area of the former bowling alley site with not a new set of doctors offices as once promised but instead a new seniors housing project, Meadowlane.

A retail area is also to be added as a new pharmacy will be built there. A new parking lot will also be built to accommodate all the cars that need to drive in and out constantly to shop and to visit.

Although a prime area close to town is going to use this, there is no effort being made to reduce car use to the site. If the reason we are densifying town is to reduce car use based on the idea of walking, there should not be measures to add retail in the residential areas as this brings people from everywhere who drive in and out. A business that is put into the area near medical uses and housing will create more traffic and it is hard to see how it will be managed.

It is very difficult for those who drive around in this already dangerous area to appreciate the needs of those who wish to have a nice area for children to walk safely without having to worry about so much traffic. If you drive a lot near town, do you realize that every parent has to stop their nice walk with their children and become alert to the oncoming car? This is a real reason kids are not out playing as they used to be in my generation.

It is already ridiculously dangerous to cross Blain Road. What are the planners who are developing Meadowlane planning to do about this? What about a proper plan for mixed demographics that allows children to live near town? Why are all the best sites being made into yet more seniors housing?

Is that really healthy? What if kids want to walk home from school and be able to walk to the store and buy a chocolate bar? What if people need to cross Lower Ganges Road as they already do and cannot? They already need to cross and they already cannot cross easily. It is a multi-lane road and even if one driver stops, the others may not see the pedestrian and they may not stop. That is already what is happening. People are trapped on the other side of the road unable to get across all the way along with only one crosswalk light at Crofton Road.

What if it is November and it gets dark at 4 p.m. and someone is hit crossing Lower Ganges Road to get to this new development? Most pedestrian fatalities are in the crosswalk, not on the side of the road, so don’t tell me a new gravel path will be put in and that will make everyone safe. Real work needs to be put into that area before there is a really bad accident. Street lights, another crosswalk, some work on traffic calming — all of those things.

Please do not continue to develop Ganges in the same haphazard manner. The increased density simply cannot rest on such poorly laid-out infrastructure. The infrastructure needs to come first, not in some offhand manner after the shovels hit the ground.

CRD, are you listening? The CRD is the liaison with the Ministry of Transportation and Infrastructure, so there is no point in trying to blame the off-island MOTI for this one. It also rests on the local trustees to make sure things are set up properly with goals that create liveability for all age groups in Ganges before just giving permission to any new idea that comes along.

The writer is a Ganges-area resident.

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