By the May long weekend, the speed limit will drop to 30 km/hour in downtown Sechelt, new angled parking will be installed, and Cowrie Street will become a westbound one-way street from Wharf to Ocean, councillors decided March 27.
The changes were identified through the Getting Around Downtown survey the District of Sechelt put out in January, which was triggered by the idea of a one-way street, a staff report said.
In the downtown survey that 211 people filled out, 70 per cent were in favour of back-out angled parking to create more parking spaces downtown and 62.4 per cent were in favour of lowering the speed limit to 30 km/hour.
Only 40 per cent of respondents approved of the one-way traffic option for Cowrie Street. Concerns raised included confusion of residents and visitors and unnecessary delays and detours.
The Ministry of Transportation and Infrastructure (MOTI) also expressed "some very large concerns" about how a one-way system in downtown Sechelt would impact the highway and requested a study at a cost of about $20,000.
However, the concerns weren't enough to deter Coun. Doug Hockley from pushing for the one-way street during Sechelt's March 27 committee of the whole meeting.
"If this is technically something that belongs to the District of Sechelt and it is really none of MOTI's business, then I'm not up for asking MOTI's permission and taking consultation from people who don't even live here," Hockley said. "I'm after doing something with the downtown and getting on with it. We've been talking about this for a year. In fact, going back in the record, I brought this forward in a former council presentation in 2006, so we've been talking about this for seven years."
Mayor John Henderson asked Hockley what he wanted council to do.
"I would just like to get ahead and do it. It's line painting and closing off a street to a one-way thing. If it doesn't work, fine, reverse it. It's paint. Let's get on with it. Let's quit talking about it," Hockley said.
He said the idea of a one-way street was meant to "create a flow and to generate the commerce that the business core wants" instead of Sechelt being a "drive through community."
"It's just signs and lines," Hockley stressed before making a motion to change Cowrie to a one-way street and install angle parking along the south side.
Coun. Alice Lutes spoke against that motion, drawing council's attention to the lack of support for the option in the survey; however, no discussion ensued.
"If we said we wanted to implement this right away, what kind of lead in time do they actually need?" Coun. Darnelda Siegers asked staff.
Staff suggested it would take a "couple of months" to implement.
With that, Siegers moved the one-way street be created by June 1 and that an evaluation on how the option worked be prepared in October for council's review. Coun. Chris Moore pushed for an earlier date, saying he would prefer the May long weekend.
Siegers was OK with the amendment.
When the question was called, all but Lutes and Coun. Mike Shanks were in favour of making Cowrie Street one way by the May long weekend, so the motion passed.
Also passed by council were recommendations to commission a traffic study; to build new sidewalks downtown to a minimum of 1.8 m width; to include tactile surfaces on existing letdowns; to monitor complaints about loading and unloading downtown and to educate drivers; that only front in, back out angled parking be used in Sechelt as the preferred type of angled parking; that the downtown revitalization advisory committee be requested to find a tour bus parking location to try out for one year; and that the speed limit on the "main shopping streets" downtown be reduced to 30 km/hour.
The changes are to be implemented by the May long weekend, which is May 18 to 20.
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