I got to thinking about a recent story in The NEWS about the Wembley Road safety issue. I really got to wondering about the regional director making a comment that basically sounded like blaming the pre-existing school (Oceanside Elementary) for the traffic problem there, when in fact for four years the issue has been raised with the director, school board, MLAs past and present, the MP and RCMP and others, about the road and the lack of connectivity and safe pedestrian routes and cycling routes separated from the Wembley Road. An accident is just around the corner.
The Regional District of Nanaimo rubber stamps these developments and then states that the Transport Department is responsible for these issues, yet elsewhere in this province and on this Island, the municipalities take the bull-by-the-horn and make conditions upon the developers and the road infrastructures to include safe alternate transport routes. With all the six major developments happening recently along and around the Wembley Mall area, we have lost some opportunity to get something safe added into the mix. I see that major road paving is happening to the entrance to Wembley, I hope without holding my breath that a sidewalk and cycling lane will be added. Will there be a sidewalk? The curbing is permanent, the traffic at certain times of the day and night very heavy and rushed, and the new parking lot lights are distracting for motorists and roadside user-groups at ground level. It is a clear indication to me and other cyclists and a parent of school teens that this project caters to a motorist mindset and not the alternatives that exist and create tourism and retain families in other communities.
I would submit that our director needs to start directing the Transport Department and the developers to give up some inches of land and mandate safe corridors into the regional plan and take a page or two from Comox/Courtney and Victoria/CRD and Saanich and even Vancouver and Ottawa. Those issues were very prominent in those communities recent civic elections.
From what I have seen there doesn’t appear to be any type of significant park space in the recent Wembley area developments, another irritant that could be mitigated by having the developers pressured into structuring a safe road and paved-trail plan through their dream lots.
Why the delay in getting into the 21st century and creating incentives to retain families and increase safe tourism? The spin off also creates jobs and good health.