Summer village residents feel emergency access is dangerous

The County of Stettler will conduct a traffic count on a municipal road serving Buffalo Lake’s summer villages after some residents stated changes to the road could be dangerous. 

The delegation appeared at council by teleconference during the June 10 regular meeting.

Lee Chapman spoke as a resident and property owner along Bay View Street, which runs along the southern shore of Buffalo Lake and is located between the communities of Rochon Sands and White Sands.

Chapman began his presentation by stating he was not opposed to a second emergency exit from Rochon Sands and stated he understood why the fire department was looking for a second exit.

However, Chapman stated he felt possible traffic increases on Bay View Street if the changes are made, pose more risk to residents than is acceptable.

He used his own property as an example, noting that his setback on Bay View Street was fairly small, and his family would be very close to the street and would experience a large increase in traffic if it was also identified as a second emergency exit from Rochon Sands. 

Chapman stated lots of kids ride their bicycles on Bay View Street and the idea of turning it into a collector road alarmed him.

“I am truly terrified about the danger to our family if it becomes a collector road,” said Chapman.

He stated that he was opposed to the idea of Bay View Street as a second emergency exit unless the road was gated to prevent mundane use.

It was stated at the meeting that the community association backed Chapman’s claims and while the association was pleased the county was looking at finding a second emergency exit, the association was concerned about traffic speeds on Bay View Street, construction traffic, the road’s width and the fact that the road is used by a lot of pedestrians.

Coun. Dave Grover stated opening up Bay View Street would benefit a lot of people and didn’t think traffic would increase that much.

Coun. James Nibourg asked Chapman to explain a quote of an increase of 400 vehicles per day.

Chapman said he guessed at this number and used the fact White Sands summer village has 400 lots, hence, 400 more vehicles on Bay View Street per day.

Nibourg stated that since Bay View Street is a public road allowance, he felt it was impossible to block it off.

County Chief Administrative Officer Yvette Cassidy stated there was only one other road allowance in the County of Stettler which was blocked and it also was in the Buffalo Lake area, adding it’s possible this road blockage may also be removed.

Coun. Wayne Nixon asked Chapman what alternatives he offered to Bay View Street being used as a second emergency exit. 

Chapman stated he felt a gate, specifically a breakaway-style gate, could be placed across the road to stop normal traffic.

This barricade could easily be broken open by an emergency vehicle, he added.

It was noted at the meeting the community association was willing to help pay for this gate.

Coun. Cheri Neitz stated she’d like to discuss options that slowed down traffic on Bay View Street or discouraged traffic from using the street. 

“I know the main concern is safety,” said Neitz.

Director of Operations Rick Green stated he wasn’t sure he liked the idea of something that could slow down the emergency vehicles and also noted that the speed limit on that part of Bay View Street was only 30 km/hr.

Cassidy suggested a traffic count is possible in the short term, with the information coming back to council as soon as possible.

Chapman liked the idea.

“I think it’s a really good start,” he said. He also suggested “Local traffic only” signs on the road.

However, Nibourg bristled at the idea, noting the county would already need the provincial government’s permission to gate the road plus the road is not legally for local traffic, but open to the public who want to enjoy Buffalo Lake.

“That sets to me a very bad precedent,” said Nibourg.

Both Nibourg and Reeve Larry Clarke noted they lived at residences that had setbacks as tight as or tighter than Bay View Street’s.

Councillors decided to conduct the traffic count and discuss the results when they were available.

 

Stu Salkeld, Local Journalism Initiative reporter

ECA Review

About the author

Stu Salkeld

Stu Salkeld

Stu Salkeld, who has upwards of 28 years of experience in the Alberta community newspaper industry, is now covering councils and other news in the Stettler region and has experience working in the area as well.

He has joined the ECA Review as a Local Journalism Initiative Journalist.

Stu earned his two-year diploma in print journalism from SAIT in Calgary from 1993 to ’95 and was raised in Oyen, Alta., one of the communities within the ECA Review’s coverage area.

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