An attempt to have City of Victoria staff revisit the Richardson Street redesign as part of the city’s cycling network was voted down by Victoria council.
Coun. Charlayne Thornton-Joe made a motion during final budget deliberations to have the project removed from the 2021 work plan, so staff could take another look at the approved design, but it was defeated 6-3 on April 22.
Coun. Stephen Andrew, who seconded the motion and voted in favour along with Coun. Geoff Young, had previously told council he had received “upwards of 200” resident complaints from people questioning the design for the Richardson corridor.
It calls for a significant reduction in vehicle traffic, using barriers and other traffic calming measures.
“I’m not convinced that we may have got it right, that’s all, nothing against the work that staff did,” he told Black Press Media in an interview.
The potential for commuter and other non-resident traffic on Richardson to spill over onto neighbouring streets is worrisome, said Linda Barry, who lives nearby on Richmond Road. In March she sent mayor and council a nine-point list of concerns relating to the project.
“I’m concerned with the school zone at Chandler (Avenue), which has a very congested crosswalk,” she said, noting neighbouring streets are very narrow. “More traffic will be flowing onto Richmond, Foul Bay and on Fairfield.”
In 2019 and 2020, numerous opportunities for feedback were offered on the design for Richardson Street, selected as the preferred east-west route over Fairfield Road following previous consultation. The city collected feedback in person, via email, online surveys and at community association meetings.
Nonetheless, Barry said she was not aware of public consultation before council approved a neighbourhood bikeway treatment in July 2020. “It doesn’t make sense to me, spend all this money doing something that the public doesn’t want and does not appear to be necessary.” She added the city appeared to ignore Oak Bay’s input on the project – Richardson becomes McNeill Avenue at Foul Bay Road – in an “appalling lack of governance.”
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Such disconnects from city efforts to gather public input are troubling to Andrew, who came to council winning a byelection after the consultation was done on this project.
“I will acknowledge that there was quite a lot of consultation. What seems to be happening now is we have found a whole group of people that feel they have not been consulted,” he said, now that the project is going ahead.
He wondered if the city should consider different engagement tools in future to reach affected residents. But with work to transform Richardson scheduled for this summer, Andrew said all anyone can do now is wait to see what happens once the changes are completed.
“I believe something was missed, but it may be 18 months before we see the effects,” he said.
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