RDN taking Village Way Trail issues to Transportation Minister Trevena

Derek Kilbourn

Sounder News

Tuesday, August 15 2017

The Village Way Trail is on hold until the Regional District of Nanaimo can have a meeting with Claire Trevena, the Minister of Transportation and Infrastructure (MOTI).

That from Howard Houle, RDN Director for Electoral Area B, who was speaking recently at the roadways meeting hosted by the Gabriola Ratepayers Association.

The Village Way Trail is a proposed off-roadway trail from the junction of North and South Road (the pencil) all the way up North Road to Tin Can Alley. The goal is to provide a safe place for pedestrians, strollers, wheelchairs and others non-highway users to travel, rather than on the shoulder of North Road.

Houle said in the Regional District of Nanaimo’s (RDN) talks with MOTI area managers, “we haven’t had satisfaction...they wanted to extend the asphalt, you can imagine what my opinion was.”

The project has been stalled since the RDN and local MOTI staff disagreed on how that trail should be built. 

The RDN went so far as to apply to have jurisdiction over the rights-of-way, but was shut down by the Ministry last year on that request.

Prior to the provincial election in May, the RDN had received word from then-MOTI Minister Todd Stone that he would sit down and meet with the RDN.

Houle is unsure whether that invitation stands with a new government and new Minister in place.

A loggerhead was hit between the RDN and local MOTI staff on how to effect drainage on the trail.

Houle said RDN staff have worked successfully elsewhere in the RDN with MOTI on dealing with water and getting trails in. “We’ll work with the Minister to work down and poke the guys at this level to say yes.”

Steve Earle, who proposed the Village Way Trail, said MOTI needs to take into account the idea that the trail will help with pedestrian safety. “We’ve talked about traffic calming [in the Village] and safety of pedestrians. I’ve not felt heard about that. Because mostly you [MOTI] are concerned with traffic safety going through, because it is a highway going through the Village.”

Earle cited being on the road on a market Saturday.

“Numerous people walking down the road, with traffic reduced to 30 km/h because of the pedestrian volume. It is not just a pedestrian issue, it is also a slowing down of traffic problem.”

Mike Pearson, MOTI District Manager said, “I don’t think that’s a totally accurate assessment - we have to balance traffic, bicycle and pedestrian.

“We work with the RDN on all kinds of trails.”

Pearson was asked if there could be a lowering of the speed limit.

“Yes, we could look at lowering the speed limit.”

Frank Shoemaker, present as a member of the public, said, “We’re in a planning discussion about safety issues which is measured in decades. 

“There have been lots of discussions, we’re really no closer to making things happen. One of these things are going to bite us - and it’s going to mean someone’s life.”