Nanaimo Waterfront Walkway; Dangerous intersection; Cone Man at council?

The last Nanaimo council meeting for May covered some interesting topics such as upgrades to the dangerous intersection at Northfield Road and Island Highway 19A, how Nanaimo Pride Parade almost got de-railed, and the plans for an expanded Nanaimo Waterfront Walkway from Departure Bay to Port Drive and more.

Northfield Road/Hwy 19A intersection upgrade

After a year of delays, Council approved $1.5 million to upgrade the Northfield Road and Highway 19A intersection. Complicating matters was the railway crossing at this location. Last year Council was unsure what was going to happen to the railway, was it staying or going?

Opposed to the improvements were Councillors Bestwick, Kipp, and Fuller.
In favour were Councillors Brennan, Hong, Thorpe, and Yoachim.

Intersection at Northfield and Island Highway 19A – NEW – no left turns from Boundary Ave onto Northfield Road. NEW – left turn lights for turning onto Boundary Ave from Northfield.

Council discussion:

Hong: Do we have an update on the number of accidents?

Staff: 1 to 2 accidents per week…

McKay: …$1.5 million cost …Ministry of Transportation will pay half of the costs?

Staff: …no high speed trains now…[won’t have to pay for higher standard of rail upgrades]

Kipp: Has staff looked at any other re-alignment options?…

Bestwick:…What’s the future of rail?…rails to trails…I don’t see rail traffic…only 8 to 16 cars a week on the rail…I don’t support millions of dollars being spent on rail crossing improvements…I prefer to see rails being removed…pending lawsuit from First Nations…No movement from provincial or federal government to make railway work…

Thorpe:…I don’t want to be here in a year talking about this….

Fuller: …potential of railway being removed…

The Design Isn’t Ideal

Hong:…This intersection needs work…the design isn’t ideal…needs a turning lane from the highway….It needs a merge lane off the highway…what about lights at Mary Ellen?…54 accidents in 2015 (compared to 82 at Bowen Road)…Buy the corner of the school property to fix the design…

Brennan: …Taking out the rails…is a much bigger question…deaths at this intersection…province willing to pay half…Council has a reluctance to spend on infrastructure…

Fuller: …Federal standards are different than provincial standards for railway…we are doing the minimum safety standard…How are we getting around this?

Mckay: ….railway is active…85% of intersections meet standards…rail tomorrow?… corridor is owned by 15 First Nations and 5 regional districts of which we are one voice…there are 19 others…

Kipp: …we are adding costs to this intersection…the busy road is Northfield…not much improvement…

Bestwick: …60% markup on goods ordered, must we still order through Southern Railway?…

Mckay: There are two makers of rail crossing goods…Southern Railway has chosen one maker…they do the repairs…

Bestwick:…they go buy it…they sole source it…I have seen the bills…markup is significant…broken rail arm at Bowen Road and Island Highway has never been repaired…

Note: On May 17th, Liberal and Conservative members of the House of Commons voted overwhelmingly against Bill C-322, An Act to amend the Railway Safety Act (road crossings), which would have forced railway companies to help construct safe road crossings.  Nanaimo MP Sheila Malcolmson voted in favour.

Nanaimo Pride Parade almost de-railed

A few months ago a group came to Council and presented their plans for a Nanaimo Pride Parade and requested barricades and signage for road closures along the parade route. They also asked if the City could re-paint the rainbow crosswalks which had faded. Their requests were approved by Council at the time.

Fast forward to Monday night, Councillor Brennan raised a motion for repairs to paint the crosswalks and barricades for road closure for the Nanaimo Pride Parade request.

Council discussion:

Brennan:  We have done nothing! Pride weekend is in early June…

Thorpe:… barriers and signage…are we being consistent…do we do this for other events?

COO (Chief Operating Officer): …this is not a City sanctioned event…

Hong: …City sanctioned event? What about Heritage Days? How are they doing barricades?

COO: …private company…

Hong: …who puts the stuff on the road?…

Mckay:…City crews bring the barricades down…then they collect them…last year… the [Pride organizers] had to go to public works and pick them up, put them up and take them down and take them back to public works…No service from public works…

Hong: How did we do it for Heritage Day?…Did they [parade organizers] do all that?…

CAO: …I find it odd that the City would have someone pick up our equipment and set it up…

Fuller: …$2,500 for the other two sidewalks…like to see the other sidewalks done…amendment to motion…to add …other two sidewalks

Brennan:…this was brought up several weeks ago…we didn’t pick up the ball…tonight it’s an urgent matter…

Yoachim: …I am proud to support an event such as this…We got to make this happen…

Kipp: …$5,000 to deliver the barricades and to pick them up?… is that a guess?…

COO: …yes…approximately…

Bestwick:…this is a downtown event…application for an annual event?…

Brennan: …we need to have a definition of ‘City sanctioned’ event…

All Councillors voted in favour of painting the sidewalks and paying for the barricades for the parade.

City Sanctioned Event Confusion

This was a very strange ‘event’ at Council. What happened? It appears that there is no one department that looks after parades. There should be a one stop shop so people don’t have to run around and ask 10 people for help. Does the City of Nanaimo already have a Special Events Coordinator? If not, this is probably something that can be given to one of the directors in the Parks or Culture departments.

Is it possible that the Pride Parade requests were overlooked because some people at the City have a personal objection to it? The COO repeatedly said it wasn’t a “City sanctioned event” but the Pride Parade had been approved by Council. Isn’t that direction enough for Staff? Does the City have a Special Events Policy?

Here is a good example of why a pyramid structure of government doesn’t work. The CAO is removed from any problems. Everything goes through the COO who is the new gate keeper. All departments including Public Works should report directly to the CAO.

Also, what happens with traffic control? The City could be held liable for any accidents that result from the misdirection of traffic.

Nanaimo Waterfront Walkway Plans

The City is planning on expanding the waterfront walkway. There are five areas that are proposed to be completed by 2018. The gaps in making the waterfront walkway continuous are:

1) Northfield Creek
2) Asia Pacific Yacht Club
3) Nanaimo Shipyard
4) Boat Basin
5) 1 Port Drive

Nanaimo waterfront walkway – 5 areas of the walkway to be filled by 2018

The 2.5 km section from Departure Bay Beach to the Departure Bay ferry terminal is controversial with the local residents. In 2002, there was a 480 meter trail installed from Stewart Avenue and Brechin Hill to Northfield Creek for $700,000.

Departure Bay Beach – waterfront walkway to continue along to Bay Street

In June a team of consultants will prepare some options for the walkway and a draft plan is to be presented to the public in September.

2.5km Cilaire Beach waterfront walkway  – concerns have been raised about cliff erosion and wildlife protection

New banners to show case Canada 150

Patrick Belanger won the banner competition for the second time. Only seven artists entered the competition.  Why did so few people compete for the banner contest?

new banners for Canada 150 in Nanaimo

At first glance it looks like a man playing bagpipes but it is a man with a miner’s lamp and someone playing a violin. Can you spot the number 150?

$99 Summer Transit pass for kids

Youth between the ages of 12 to 18 can get a transit pass that is valid from June 29th and September 4th. Passes can be used for youth drop-in recreation programs in Nanaimo, Parksville and Qualicum Beach. There are 300 passes available.

In the meantime, there needs to be a shuttle bus for NRGH workers who clog up the highways driving from Ladysmith to Nanaimo and back every day.

King Cone

This is what happens when Public Works don’t pick up City equipment: