Langley Township council ignores safety by allowing parking on 80 Avenue

There were three crashes last year during the Christmas holidays, but council persists in allowing parking for a limited period.

Editor: There has been endless debate regarding parking along 80 Avenue. It took up much of Langley Township council’s time for most of 2014. Ultimately, council decided against parking on 80 Avenue. The decision was influenced by a report provided by Paul Cordeiro, manager, engineering transportation, and Richard Welfing, transportation engineer.

The report stated that arterial roads such as 80 Avenue primarily provide for the movement of through traffic, not parking.

Welfing noted the nearby major transportation projects and stated that 80 Avenue plays a key transportation role within the Township of Langley. Six different options for providing parking on 80 Avenue were reviewed, and findings were that installing an option with a travel lane, time of day parking/travel lane, and a bicycle lane is not possible for a number of safety reasons.

Staff recommended maintaining the existing road configuration on 80 Avenue; considering implementation of time limited parking on 79A Avenue and 80A Avenue as an alternative, after a ballot is sent to directly affected properties and returned with a minimum of 67 per cent support; and continuing with the review and consultation of alternative options, such as two-sided parking on local roads and review of off-street parking requirements.

As a resident of Willoughby, I spoke out strongly against the proposed parking along 80 Avenue. A lot of good that did. Township council has recently covered the no parking signs along 80 Avenue for the duration of the holiday season. Council voted 7-2 in favour of permitting parking along 80 Avenue with Mayor Jack Froese and Councillor Angie Quaale the only two who were not in favour.

The majority of council consciously chose to ignore the safety issues outlined in the report. In my opinion, this issue should not have been put on the agenda. A decision was made this past fall regarding the parking, and council should abide by that ruling.

However, to appease a few homeowners and to ensure the longevity of their political careers, council voted to proceed in direct violation of its own bylaws and has now put the safety and wellbeing of the Willoughby residents in jeopardy.

Traffic along 80 Avenue has doubled over the past year. Drivers cannot see when trying to make a left hand turn onto 80 Avenue, when cars park on the side of the street. There is a major line-of-sight issue. The engineer’s report stated this. Council even used this information as a rationale to prevent implementing permanent parking along 80 Avenue. Now they are now choosing to disregard those same facts to allow holiday parking.

Council is fully aware of the safety issues associated with parking along 80 Avenue, but is still permitting it during the holiday season, thereby consciously putting peoples’ lives at risk — including pedestrians trying to cross at an incredibly busy intersection.

The main access into, and out of, the Yorkson South community in Willoughby is via 211 Street and 80 Avenue. I have started to notice that during peak travel times there are significant traffic delays along 208 Street. As a result traffic is rerouting and starting to use 211 Streeth as an alternate route, thus compounding the problem even further. Congestion, high volume and poor visibility due to lack of line-of-sight is the perfect combination for motor vehicle accidents.

Council permitted holiday parking along 80 Avenue last year. My husband and I witnessed three accidents at the intersection of 80 Avenue and 211 Street during the 2013 holiday season. There is a significant likelihood that the driver’s visibility was greatly diminished due to the parking permitted along 80 Avenue. If there are accidents again this year, should the Township council be liable? It was fully aware of the risks involved when councillors voted in favour of allowing parking along 80 Avenue.

No matter how hard I try, I simply cannot comprehend council’s logic on this issue. How do councillors justify stating that it is not acceptable to allow parking along 80 Avenue permanently and fighting vehemently to prevent it, yet they contradict their very own decisions and arguments and allow it over one of the busiest times of the year, the Christmas season? It simply does not make sense.

If they insist on allowing holiday parking, at least the line-of-sight issue should be taken into consideration.

Township council should put aside political agendas and give the gift of safety to the residents of the Yorkson South community.

H. Benner,