Evergreen Subdivision's Street Safety Questioned
In an ambitious eight page agenda for this week’s city council meeting a street corner in Pinewood garnered the most attention. A standing room only crowd (there are only seats for about ten people in the gallery) gathered, largely to hear and comment on a development variance permit for the Evergreen Ridge subdivision.
The variance applied for was in regards to road design parameters in the new subdivision with discussion on how that may affect safety, in particular at the intersection and entrance to the new subdivision off of Cedar Crescent.
Said variance would vary the road design parameters as established by the City of Rossland Subdivision and Development services bylaw #1999 from a right of way width of 20 meters to 15 meters with a minimum centerline radius of 65 meters for a local road to 30 meters. Conditions placed on the variance included that the developer be required to ensure all services can be accommodated within the ROW to the service provider’s satisfaction, that the developer be required to provide snow storage easements on each lot frontage and that the developer be required to prove that sign distance and safety requirements can be met prior to further road works.
What that all means in real terms is narrower roads through the subdivision, allowing for less cut and fill in the construction. This will lessen the environmental impact of the site; houses will be closer to the road and there will be shorter and shallower grades for the driveways and an altered intersection with Cedar Crescent. The new intersection, under the variance, would see a tighter turn from Evergreen coming into the intersection and a flatter approach to the intersection with the vertical grade being completed in the road before the turn entering the intersection.
A Mrs. Belanger, speaking before council, was passionate in her response to Mayor Granstrom’s comment that he believes the variance would “be less intrusive to the neighbourhood. If we didn’t grant this variance he would just put in the wide road with the big curve,” responding that “Intrusion into our neighbourhood is one thing and the safety of our child is another. If 30 meters (centerline radius) means a steep intersection versus the 60 meter radius that we can drive safely, I don’t think the safety of our children should be sacrificed for intrusiveness into the neighbourhood.”
Clarifying the issue, city engineer Mike Thomas replied, noting that the shorter radius of the curve would not create a steep intersection.
“The way it would be designed is that almost all of the transition out of the vertical grade will have occurred before the start of the horizontal curve (connecting the intersection) This is standard engineering design, I’ve been designing roads for ten years. This is not rocket science.”
Other concerns raised involved access to the subdivision, with Mr. Gifford presenting his thoughts that the current intersection of Tamarack with the highway was already unsafe without adding more cars to the neighbourhood and that “using Cedar Crescent as the entrance to the new subdivision is not the best solution. Bringing a road up from the highway at the cemetery area into this area solves a lot of problems. It certainly makes Pinewood a safer place, I know a lot of factors are involved in bringing another road up from the highway but that, to me, is the best solution and that’s what I would do if I was in charge. But I’m not.”
Thomas explained that “the proposed intersection down at the cemetery has been discussed many times with highways and they will not budge. They do not want another intersection into the subdivisions of Rossland off of the highway. They’ve made that abundantly clear.”
Putting the question directly to city staff and their expertise on the matter Councillor Wallace asked directly, “Is this a good idea?”
Answering the question, Thomas reiterated his views that he is in favour of narrower roads, less pavement and narrower right of ways to reduce the impact of roads on the environment. He also explained that having houses closer to the road would improve the urban flow and having houses closer to the road with shorter driveways would shorten the grade the driveways would have to climb.
Noting as well that if the city’s hillside standards bylaw had been in place by now, as it was expected to be, than this variance would not have been necessary as the proposed changes fit within the draft bylaw of the hillside standards. “It’s definitely an improvement. The hillside standards would certainly solve this if we had been able to do that. Unfortunately the way it worked out, the developer required some assurance that this design would (Get some support) before the new hill side design standards come into place… It was expected that the (Hillside Standards Bylaw) would have been in place by now.”
On several occasions, Mayor Granstrom backed up city staff, arguing that they are the experts on the matter and that staff should trust their work. “I must state that we have staff involved here that do this work and I am certain that Mr Thomas with his P. Eng is not about to sell the city short on any of this stuff.”
The variance was ultimately passed with Councillor Charlton opposing the motion.
Dean Bulfone of the Evergreen project was impressed with the new council’s handling of the matter.
“I’m happy with the outcome. One of the main things I saw through this was that this was kind of the first test for council and they seemed to gel fairly well together and it looks like they’ve developed some trust for their staff and that’s the main thing.”
“They have to trust their staff. The engineers are doing their jobs with the engineering specifications so that was a good outcome for sure.”
With the variance approved, Evergreen can now move forward in their plans and their “engineers are going full steam ahead to finish our drawings so we’re ready to go as soon as the ground dries out,” said Bulfone.
Currently 50% of the Evergreen subdivision has been pre-sold and the show home on site is nearing completion with the siding being put up currently and interior finishing work commencing shortly.
Bulfone expects a busy summer with indications in the real estate world that things are beginning to pick up again. “It’s a slow market right now but we’re seeing signs of recovery. People have been waiting on the sidelines looking at houses waiting to see where things would bottom out and there haven’t been many offers. That has started to change in the last month. There are some positive signs in the economy as well. I think it’ll be a good summer.”