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Centre Street residents fear for safety

 Shannon LeClair  

Times Reporter     
 
A proposal to rezone two properties on Centre Street has some residents fearing about safety on the already overcrowded street. 
The properties in question, 205 and 211 Centre Street, are currently zoned R1, single detached dwelling. 
The proposal would see them zoned as R2X, medium density attached housing, which could see fourplex units put on each property, or even a six-plex on one of them.
Christie Meyers, who had submitted a letter to council stating her concerns over the proposal, and her husband Alvin plan to fight the proposed rezoning every step of the way. 
Meyers lives kitty-corner from the properties, which are on the north corner of Centre Street and Parkwood Crescent, where the three-way stop sign is located.
Her fear about the safety of that street stems from more than just a ‘Not In My Backyard’ level of reasoning; four years ago at that intersection, a car hit her daughter Karlee, who is now 6. 
“We have concerns about a project of this size being built in this neighbourhood when there are already issues with traffic and parking,” said Meyers. 
“We fought for the stop sign because the amount of traffic on Centre Street, combined with a lack of visibility due to the number of cars parked on the street, made it a dangerous intersection. It still has its risks, but a project that would increase traffic and on-street parking won’t help the situation.
“We’re concerned for the safety of our kids, and this project won’t make it any safer.”
The parking issue is one that many residents and councillors have about the street. The bylaw states that there should be a minimum of 1.5 parking spots per dwelling. 
“If it is 1.5 that does speak to Christie Meyers’ concern about having two car homes, where most people do each own a vehicle when there is more than one adult in a dwelling, and if there’s a 1.5 then she’s right, one will park in the driveway, one will park in the street which we’ve already identified as a major problem,” said Councillor Denise Peterson at the Sept. 3 council meeting. 
Council also heard some of the concerns from Meyers and from Jason Binns, who lives on Parkwood Crescent. Binns also spoke about his traffic safety concerns. 
“Cars, because of the lack of parking tend to park too close to the corner, and you actually have to creep out almost into the intersection before you can see,” said Binns.
“Safety is a concern as well and with more traffic and more cars parked there and these people that fly through that, it’s just an accident waiting to happen.” 
Werner Fischer, with the planning and development department for the town, said he thinks the best solution to parking and access would be a private driveway that would form the southerly extension of that lane. 
“My biggest nightmare would be along the lines of Mr. Binns is saying, that suddenly there’s more driveways, more parking, more vehicles entering Centre Street from this new development right at this corner,” said Councillor Pat Fule.
“It’s fine and good to say that at the development part of it that we would make sure things happen a certain way but my worry is things don’t go that way. Two councils before us felt Centre Street was such a problem that they put a three way stop right at that intersection, right where this development is supposed to occur, so that’s my worry.” 
It is safe to assume that if the R2X zoning were approved there could be potentially 10 to 20 new vehicles added to a small area.  
“While our Municipal Development Plan supports an increase in density, I don’t think it supports it at any cost. I am very much in favour of increasing urban density, especially in our downtown area, but I think that it has to be very, very carefully plotted and I don’t know that council can make an informed decision when we don’t know for sure what’s going to be put on those lots,” said Councillor Denise Peterson.
“I think it would be very unwise in an area that has already faced this much difficulty to make a decision without having all of the information.” 
As of right now there are no long-term plans in place for Centre Street. On the west side of the street many people have driveways, but there are not as many on the east side, which can add to the congestion. 
“I guess the key thing to me would be to ensure that lot can handle the number of people that could happen there, could be 20 vehicles, we don’t know, it would be nice to know what they’re building,” said Chief Administrative Officer Dwight Stanford. 
Council all agreed that they would like to see more information brought forward in the form of a development permit about what is exactly being proposed for the properties. The public hearing was suspended until that time. 
 

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