Proposed First Avenue turning lane change worries some downtown Kamloops businesses

'Dead zone' on Victoria St.?

The executive director of the Kamloops Central Business Improvement Association says some businesses have concerns the 100-block of Victoria Street could turn into a “dead zone” if proposed changes to a nearby intersection take place.

Howie Reimer said he went out to speak with a number of businesses ahead of council discussions on potential alterations to the intersection at Lansdowne Street and First Avenue.

The changes include replacing a southbound left turn lane from First to Victoria Street with a northbound left turn lane from First to Lansdowne and West Victoria Street. Council will put the matter to a vote Tuesday.

“I spoke to as many businesses as possible, and all but one had concerns about, you know, worrying that it would become a dead zone,” Reimer said.

'A lot of concern'

In December, Kamloops council heard the Lansdowne and First intersection was reconfigured in 2014, and at the request of downtown businesses, a southbound left hand turn lane was created to allow cars on First Avenue to access Victoria Street.

The city’s traffic data showed 21 cars make the southbound left hand turn to Victoria Street during peak hours, while there are more than 230 cars navigating the northbound left turn to Lansdowne.

City staff said if the southbound lane is converted into a northbound left turn, traffic delays will be reduced by 30 per cent.

Reimer said some businesses he spoke with, while aware of the project, were still processing what the implications of the proposed changes might be.

“There’s a lot of concern, they’re worried that there's less access to the 100-block of Victoria Street,” he said.

He added members of the local cycling community are also hoping to retain a more accessible route to Victoria Street from Riverside Park.

The owner of Maurya’s Rest.Bar.Banquet shared his concerns about the proposed changes in a letter to the city, which the restaurant passed on to Castanet Kamloops. The letter voiced opposition to removing the turn lane to Victoria Street, noting there has historically been less traffic flow in the 100 block than in other stretches.

“The southbound left-turn lane on to Victoria Street from First Avenue has been a crucial access point for customers, allowing them to easily reach the businesses in the area,” the letter read.

“Altering this traffic pattern could discourage potential customers from choosing these establishments and may even lead to economic hardships for the local business community.”

Council to decide

According to a survey conducted by City of Kamloops staff, 51 per cent of the 483 respondents don’t support the adjustments, while 49 per cent want to see the changes move forward.

Of all survey respondents, 31 per cent identified as business owners or employees in the downtown core.

Reimer said he has requested a copy of the survey results from the city.

“There’s pros and cons with [the changes], but certainly from the business standpoint within the 100 block, yeah, there are concerns," he said.

Kamloops council will be putting the proposed changes to a vote during Tuesday’s council meeting, which starts at 1:30 p.m.

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