Invermere council discussed the need for a sidewalk on a dangerous stretch of road near the Westridge subdivision.

The discussion was prompted by a letter from Invermere resident Steph Van de Kemp, received during council’s Tuesday, October 10th meeting, beseeching the district to consider putting a sidewalk on the part of 14th Street/Pineridge Drive between the Westridge subdivision and Mount Nelson Athletic Park.

“I’m a biker, runner, walker — and a mom to three young children. As a resident of Canyon View Road (which intersects with 14th Street/Pineridge Drive between the park and Westridge), I see children walking and biking this stretch of road on a daily basis,” wrote Ms. Van de Kemp. “With a steep hill and a blind corner, this section of road poses some obvious risks to pedestrians, many of whom are children traveling between home and school or to and from Mount Nelson Athletic Park.

“The curvy nature of the road means that drivers often can’t see pedestrians and therefore travel at what most of us would consider dangerous speeds,” she continued. “I see this as a serious safety issue.”

Council members were quick to agree that the lack of sidewalk along the road is a major problem.

“If the Pineridge development goes ahead, and families start moving in there, there’s going to be kids walking down that road in winter, and that terrifies me,” said councillor Greg Anderson. “There’s going to be an accident there one day, and we will all regret it if we don’t do something.”

Mr. Anderson asked Invermere chief administrative officer Chris Prosser if district staff has looked at the issue before.

“We have. It’s expensive (to put in a sidewalk). It’s a boggy area and there’s an outcropping of rock that complicates things,” replied Mr. Prosser. “That’s why the district put the walking path to Westridge through the school (David Thompson Secondary School).”

He added that from what he recalls when the district last looked at the problem, putting a sidewalk on the south side of the road, where the bed rock is, would likely be more expensive than on the north side, but said he wasn’t sure what the cost for each would be.

“It’s an issue not just of traffic, but one of speed, a lot of people drive much faster than they should on that road and it’s coming down to a playground area,” said Mr. Prosser, adding the idea of a raised crosswalk in the area has, when suggested in the past, raised a few eyebrows among some residents there, who feel there are already too many raised crosswalks, stop signs and speed bumps in the vicinity.

“But it’s (make that stretch of road safer) something that has to be done some time,” said Mr. Prosser.

At the end of the discussion, council gave direction to district staff to do a high-level estimate of the cost of putting in a sidewalk on the north side of the road, and for putting a sidewalk on the south side of the road. A high-level estimate is a rough ball park figure taking into account all the major factors, but leaving aside exacting micro details. High-level estimates are typically completed much more quickly than fully costed, heavily detailed low-level estimates.