Discussion about safety upgrades to 16 Avenue resurfaced at Township council on Monday night, after Coun. Charlie Fox’s motion to get road improvements “on the table” was referred to staff for more information.
Fox said the focus of his motion, which is similar to one that was defeated in 2008, is on crossing safety. He is calling for funding in the 2017 and 2018 budgets to installs traffic signals at 208, 224, 232, 240, 256 and 272 Streets to allow for traffic activated north/south crossings.
He is also asking for more enforcement opportunities through the addition of four pull-outs — two east-bound and two west-bound — and the use of green wave technology, similar to what’s used on 200 Street, to synchronize lights for drivers travelling at the posted speeds.
It’s a very personal matter for Fox, who lives south of 16 Avenue and crosses the road on a regular basis.
“I’ve been under a lot of pressure being the one and only council member that lives down there to actually get something going on here,” Fox said, adding that it’s been two years since any work has been done on that roadway.
“The one thing that people constantly, constantly tell me — it doesn’t matter if I’m at the Otter Co-op or at Wix Brown or where I am — we need to make this a safer route going north/south. Yes, commuters go east/west, there’s no question. But we are residents of Langley, we are taxpayers of Langley.
“Commuters don’t pay any taxes, they just want to get from A to B and they do so when they go through. We need to make it safe for our residents, the ones that pay taxes in our community.”
Fox said one of the most dangerous areas is at 208 Street, where pickup trucks towing large horse trailers from Campbell Valley Park are “putting their lives (at risk)” crossing 16 Avenue at the crest of a hill.
“People going eastbound, there’s a hill coming up. And if someone is speeding up that hill, it puts them in jeopardy.
“So I really think we need to become a little more conscious of this,” he said.
While other members of council agreed that safety improvements must be made, several said they want to wait until a joint study by TransLink, the Township, the City of Surrey, the City of Abbotsford, and the province is released this month.
“We need to have a thorough discussion on this tiny report that is here,” Coun. Bob Long said while holding up a draft of the TransLink report, which was provided to council for comments during closed meetings.
“There’s a lot of information that we need to put into context of what’s being suggested.
“We need to have the expert advice of our staff.”
Coun. Richter agreed with Fox that immediate action should be taken, calling the Township the “ham in the sandwich” in the situation.
“I think councillor Fox is 100 per cent right on this,” Richter said.
“We should just be passing this now, making it very clear that from Langley Township council’s perspective, our residents are number one.
“Not Surrey, not Abbotsford, not regional road networks that are going to cut our community in half and really jeopardize some of our important industries in agri-tourism in South Langley.”
Both councillors Michelle Sparrow and Angie Quaale countered that comment, saying the decision to refer Fox’s motion is putting the community first.
“I just want to say to councillor’s Richter’s points that were made, that it is putting our residents first by asking for a report back from staff to get an understanding of how much this is going to cost before we vote on this,” Sparrow said.
“How could we approve this right now?” Quaale added.
“Where’s this going to come from? How are we going to pay for it?”
The referral passed with councillors Fox and Richter opposed.