By Steve Hubrecht
Speeding was a hot topic of discussion during last week’s Invermere council meeting, with two separate parties beseeching council members to put the brakes on dangerous drivers in two different parts of the district.
Pineridge residents David and Diane Hunt pressed councillors during the June 13 meeting about speeding dump trucks and other too-fast vehicles coming into and out of the westernmost edge of town on Pineridge Mountain Run.
At the same time Buzz Harmsworth, who lives south of Walker’s Lane, raised concerns about vehicles zooming into and out of the southernmost edge of town on Westside Road.
The Hunts want the district to install two speed bumps along Pineridge Mountain Run to slow the zippy motorists.
David Hunt noted there are two gravel pits further down Pineridge Mountain Run, outside the District of Invermere boundaries, but dump trucks full of gravel (or going to get gravel) from these pits must drive through town.
Some of them are doing so “at excessive speeds,” he said, adding with a building boom underway in Pineridge there is a lot of home construction related traffic as well, some of which is also driving far too fast. On top of that, many mountain bikers, hikers, trail runners and dog walkers use the road to access nearby trail systems, he added.
“It’s a dangerous situation for residents, for pedestrians, for the hikers, bikers and dog walkers. Especially children,” said Hunt. He recalled raising the issue a few years ago, but nothing has been done. “We need speed bumps because they work . . . I know there’s controversy because people hate to slow down. But there is a reason they need to slow down,” he implored.
Diane Hunt chimed in that it is very clear that many vehicles are moving much faster than 60 kilometres per hour through a residential area, never mind the posted 50 kilometres per hour speed limit. “It’s not just the dump trucks, there is all kinds of traffic. And there are more and more pedestrians there all the time,” she said.
Harmsworth then explained the same thing happens on the south end of town, saying drivers coming up Westside Road into town often ignore the fact that they’ve just entered a residential area with a slower speed limit, and instead continue to travel at highway-like speeds. He pointed out the danger in this, noting that not long after entering Invermere from the south drivers on Westside Road (which becomes 13th Avenue) go past a neighbourhood playground, past homes with back decks almost fronting right onto the street, and past first one school zone and then another.
The school zones and the stretch of road by the playground have speed limits of 30 kilometres per hour, while for the rest of Westside Road (at least the part within Invermere boundaries) and 13th Avenue the limit is 50 kilometres per hour.
“Is there no way to make it 30 kilometres per hour the whole way (along the street), year round?” asked Harmsworth.
Most council members were quick to agree there is a danger, but we’re divided on what to do about it.
Councillor Kayja Becker agreed with Harmsworth’s suggestion. “It’s 50 (kilometres per hour), then 30, then 50, then 30. Some drivers get infuriated by constant changes. Why not have a consistent speed right through?” asked Becker, adding the school zones are not marked as clearly as they ought to be.
“You are always wondering, when is it (the school zone) over? When I feel like it is?” she said.
Invermere Mayor Al Miller was clear that “we don’t want to see somebody get hit” but wasn’t sure making the speed limit 30 kilometres per hour along the entire length of 13th Avenue and the part of Westside Road within Invermere boundaries was a good idea. He noted this was a long way for drivers to move quite slowly. “Frustration would build,” said Miller.
Becker countered that, frustrated or not, drivers rush, especially on a street with two school zones and a playground.
“What kind of rat-race city do we live in that you need to speed? Why can’t you go 30 kilometres the whole way? It will add about two minutes to your drive. Just enjoy the view,” she said.
Councillor Gerry Taft agreed with Miller that a 30 kilometre per hour speed limit might not do much good. “People going a little bit over the speed limit is not necessarily an issue. But you do have an issue when you have people going 70 kilometres or 80 kilometres. And that does happen there. But will a slower speed limit change that?” asked Taft. He suggested people who drive that fast clearly have no regard for safety, and will likely continue to blatantly ignore the speed limit, whether it’s a mix of 50 and 30 kilometres per hour or whether it’s 30 kilometres per hour the whole way through.
Corporate Officer Kindry Luyendyk told council members that Invermere bylaw officer Mark Topliff has talked to the dump truck drivers entering town from the west in the past.
Luyendyk said Topliff can do it again, although she wasn’t sure the drivers would listen to him. Still, she said, even if the drivers don’t listen, it could be a useful exercise, since the district can start to gather information and document the issue.
The Pioneer reached out to the Columbia Valley RCMP, who explained speeding on Pineridge Mountain Run and Westside Road is not necessarily much different than speeding in other parts of the Columbia Valley.