Pedestrians strolling along Canada’s Great Street will feel that much safer in the near future as the town looks to install $30,000 worth of bollards in the downtown core later this summer.
The measure is in response to several incidents dating back over many years involving motorists attempting to manoeuvre into an angled parking spots and finding themselves across the sidewalk on the doorstep of downtown businesses.
Mayor Aaron Stone said the thought of a vehicle potentially striking another storefront on First Avenue causes people anxiety and that there’s an economic impact if owners have to close for repairs following an incident.
“It causes people stress that they feel uncomfortable in their jobs if they sit at the front window and do that work every day, and they don’t want to sit there because they’re afraid….,” said Stone at city council on Monday.
“I think this is a reasonable expense and safety improvement for the people that have been impacted the most and then we can look at if there are any unintended consequences and see if there are other decisions moving forward.”
The first phase of nine bollards will be installed at the foot of parking spots on the high side of First Avenue between the CIBC and The Worldly Gourmet Kitchen Store.
Council adopted a recommendation that an additional $30,000 be budgeted annually until 160 bollards are installed at all the angled parking stalls on First Avenue.
“Although I’m not 100 per cent sure that 160 bollards through the whole town is maybe necessary there’s a clear pattern of focus of these issues in that core area of town between CIBC and the Old Town Bakery so I look forward to at least putting that in place and then we can gauge it,” Stone added.
Each installation on its own is expected to cost $3,000 and measure just over 25 inches high with a ductile iron cover over top of a concrete filled schedule 40 steel pipe.
Director of Infrastructure Services Geoff Goodall said for these reasons the pieces are structural rather than decorative.
“They are meant to stop a vehicle that is moving at a fair clip,” he said.
The most recent incident involving a vehicle striking a building occurred last summer when a motorist had an issue with her sandal and went through the window of 528 First Avenue.
Owner of the building, Rob Johnson, spoke during question period of council meeting and suggested the town might not need such heavily built bollards that would stop a vehicle at a high rate of speed.
“As a building owner who’s been struck three times and my tenant is very fearful of injuries, I take this very seriously,” he said, encouraging council to try out posts with less reinforcement because “the psychological effect of driving up to the bollards will slow you down immediately and nobody wants to hit their car on it.”
Unsatisfied with the lack of alternatives presented in the staff report, Councillor Joe Friesenhan, who is also the town council liaison for the Ladysmith Downtown Business Association, voted against installing bollards.
“There are more things you can do than just putting bollards in, which is the most expensive option,” he said, noting that the previous staff direction from January 2016 included asking for other safety improvements.
Some of the other alternatives could have been planter boxes and rubber blocks like those used at Coronation Mall.
“One of the factors that led us to stay with bollards was that you can put a bollard in and it’s quite a small diameter and doesn’t really take an awful lot of the sidewalk up,” said Goodall.“We’re trying to find something that’s really simple, doesn’t impede people walking back and forth out of their cars and easy for our sidewalk (snow clearing) machine.”
Bollards were also the choice in Duncan after angled parking was installed.
Councillor Rob Hutchins, whose family also operates the Wild Poppy Bistro and The Old Town Bakery, said these measures in Ladysmith are “long overdue.”
“It’s been a long time coming,” he said. “You can just see how many buildings have been altered, changed, no lives have been lost and no one has been injured, yet, but I don’t think today we’d be putting in this type of parking without bollards.”