Amid concerns from businesses, Kamloops council rejects proposed downtown intersection change

Busy corner will stay as is

Kamloops council sided with concerned downtown business owners Tuesday, voting down a proposed intersection change some feared would create a “dead zone” along the 100-block of Victoria Street.

In a 6-3 vote during Tuesday’s meeting, council decided against moving forward with proposed alterations to the intersection at Lansdowne Street and First Avenue. The changes would have seen the southbound left turn lane from First to Victoria Street replaced with an additional northbound left turn lane from First to Lansdowne.

A survey conducted by city staff drew nearly 500 responses, and showed 49 per cent supported the project, while 51 per cent did not.

Coun. Kelly Hall said the final survey vote wasn’t convincing.

“Closing off that left hand turn is significantly going to impact those businesses. I think you’ll also see traffic snake up the back alley between Victoria and Seymour [Street],” Hall said.

He noted door-to-door surveys conducted by Howie Reimer, executive director of the Kamloops Central Business Improvement Association, showed most businesses in the 100-block didn't support the change.

“I don't think now's the time — and according to the metrics from the survey that was done, I think that people are saying it's not the time, and maybe there's other things that we can be doing here,” Hall said.

Reimer attended Tuesday’s council meeting, asking council to consider finding alternatives which would solve traffic flow issues while enhancing access to businesses.

“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 told Castanet Kamloops earlier this week.

'A nearly failing intersection'

Purvez Irani, City of Kamloops transportation manager, said traffic data showed the change, which would provide “extra storage length” for cars turning left from First to Lansdowne, would see traffic delays reduced by about 30 per cent.

“What you're doing is requiring less time for the northbound left to occur, and that savings of green time, you are providing that to Lansdowne Street. So Lansdowne Street can now get a longer green time,” Irani said.

Coun. Mike O’Reilly noted the suggested intersection change was backed up by the traffic data.

“Looking at the data that we now have, this is nearly failing. It's a nearly failing intersection. … We want that light to stay greener longer, and that’s what this will do,” O’Reilly said.

He added the 13 per cent of cars using the turn lane into the 100-block of Victoria Street may not be stopping at those businesses — and if there are vacant parking spots, this might end up attracting people to the block.

Coun. Nancy Bepple asked if the green time for Lansdowne could simply be extended. Irani said extended green time for Lansdowne would result in longer queuing on First Avenue back to Seymour Street.

While O’Reilly, Bepple and Coun. Stephen Karpuk were in favour of the changes, Hall, along with Couns. Dale Bass, Bill Sarai, Margot Middleton, Katie Neustaeter and Mayor Reid Hamer-Jackson were opposed.

Council voted 5-4 in favour of asking staff to monitor intersection operations and revisit possible improvements in the future. Bepple, O’Reilly, Karpuk and Hamer-Jackson were opposed.

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