A memorial was placed in the French Creek (Morningstar) neighbourhood of Gwen Chisholm

Road upgrades announced near Parksville where 80-year-old pedestrian was killed

There will be more signs and crosswalks on Roberton Road in the French Creek neighbourhood of Morningstar

The provincial government said this week upgrades are expected to be completed this summer to a roadway in French Creek where 80-year-old pedestrian Gwen Chisholm was killed after a hit-and-run tragedy in January.

Chisholm was involved in a movement calling for safer streets in the Morningstar area just months before her death.

She was the third person to a sign a petition ultimately garnering 169 signatures in November of 2015.

The petition read: “There is a most urgent need to improve safety for walkers and bikers in our community with the installation of a proper sidewalk, speed bumps on the road or very visible road markings indicating a slow speed and to watch for pedestrians and bikers.”

This week, the province said “pedestrians and cyclists in the community of French Creek will find improved safety conditions with planned upgrades to Roberton Boulevard between Barclay Crescent and Lowrys Road.”

Chisholm was killed on Roberton Boulevard near Lakes Boulevard, a short distance from her home. Through forensics, police identified the vehicle that struck Chisholm and said the driver wasn’t aware of the incident and he was co-operative with police. No charges were filed against the driver.

The petition Chisholm signed before her death was sent to Parksville-Qualicum MLA Michelle Stilwell, Regional District of Nanaimo Director Joe Stanhope and Ministry of Transportation and Infrastructure (MOTI) operations manager Johnathan Tillie.

Also sent was a letter, obtained by The NEWS, explaining “the reason for this petition is your lack of concern in providing adequate measures to control the speed of vehicle traffic on the ’S’ curve of Roberton Boulevard… we will most definitely have a serious injury or worse, a fatality.”

Barb Svarich, a resident in the area and president of the Saint Andrews Lane Strata, told The NEWS at the time that message fell on deaf ears.

Svarich said Roberton Boulevard is a winding road with blind spots and no sidewalk, noting there have been a handful of incidents in the past few years related to road safety and speeding vehicles.

However, Oceanside RCMP Cpl. Jesse Foreman said in January of this year that speeding has not been identified by police as an issue on Roberton Boulevard.

“A beloved woman has died because of this,” resident Karen Michalek told The NEWS at the time of the tragedy. “Gwen was so loved in this community… She was such a wonderful neighbour and friend. So warm and friendly. First and foremost, she was a lady. She never had a bad word to say about anyone.”

Chisholm’s death reignited the grief-struck community in the fight for pedestrian safety.

“We are going to fight for changes that will protect all people, all cyclists and even motorists,” strata president Svarich said after Chisholm’s death, adding that she was going to send letters to politicians demanding action.

“I’d like to see a commitment that a sidewalk will be installed. We don’t want to forget. We want to do something and we want to do it for Gwen.”

MLA Stilwell made the announcement about the upgrades this week.

“Safety always has to come first and I am confident these new improvements will ensure residents in and around the Roberton Boulevard area have better protection from traffic,” said Stilwell. “I’m grateful my constituents had confidence in me to deliver on their requests for change and with help from the Ministry of Transportation and Infrastructure staff, the Regional District of Nanaimo, and local RCMP, I’m pleased to say next year, pedestrians and cyclists will be able to further enjoy their neighbourhood with these changes.”

The province said in a news release this week that following consultations with the local government and law enforcement, the transportation ministry “has committed to providing an improved pedestrian facility along Roberton Boulevard through a mixture of off-road trails and the addition of pavement markings to delineate shoulders that will separate pedestrians and cyclists from vehicle traffic. The improvements will also include reconfiguring the Lakes Boulevard intersection, improving pedestrian signs along the corridor, and adding new crosswalks at Morningstar Drive, Lakes Boulevard, and near the existing golf cart crossing. The project budget will be determined once detailed design is completed and these upgrades are expected to be implemented in summer 2017.”

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

COVID-19: Qualicum Beach man stages concerts for charity out of his garage

Larry MacDougall says reception from neighbours has been heartening

Parksville’s ‘Support Local’ parade celebrates businesses

Approximately 30 vehicles turn out for event

RDN says water in French Creek still potable despite levels of iron, manganese

Strategy to improve water quality being established

COVID-19: City of Parksville to open offices on June 1

Health and safety restrictions will be in place

Program at Parksville’s McMillan Arts Centre offers chance to connect art, environmentalism

MAC program works to create community arts installation in city

Mission prison COVID-19 outbreak ends, 9 new cases in B.C.

New positive test at Port Coquitlam care home

Man who bound, murdered Vancouver Island teen still a risk to public: parole board

Kimberly Proctor’s killer is still ‘mismanaging emotions,’ has had ‘temper tantrums’

VIDEO: Humpback whales put on quite a show

The ‘playful’ pod lingered by a Campbell River tour operator’s boat for quite some time

Facing changes together: Your community, your journalists

The COVID-19 pandemic has changed the world in ways that would have… Continue reading

Revelstoke woman finds welcoming letter on her Alberta-registered truck

There have been multiple reports online of vandalism to vehicles with Alberta licence plates

Stolen gargoyle returns to its perch on central Vancouver Island yard

Petey, a concrete gargoyle statue, was returned by Nanaimo RCMP after being found by city crew

Spirit bear possibly spotted in West Kootenay

A local resident spotted the white-coloured bear while on an evening trail run near Castlegar on May 27

B.C. teacher reprimanded for sharing homophobic and sexist memes, making racist comments

Klaus Hardy Breslauer was accused of making a laundry list of concerning decisions as a science teacher

B.C. businesses ‘can’t shoulder burden’ of COVID-19 sick pay

Trudeau’s plan should be tied to federal emergency aid

Most Read