VERNON - Municipal leaders are frustrated more hasn’t been done to ensure transit riders can safely and easily get to a major Vernon bus stop.
Vernon Mayor Akbal Mund says the bus stop outside of the Village Green Centre food court will permanently move to a stop on 48 Avenue, requiring riders to traverse the mall parking lot to get there.
“I just don’t get it,” Mund says.
Council is concerned about people with mobility issues getting from the mall to the bus stop, especially during the winter months when faced with slush and slippery conditions.
The issue surfaced when First Canada, which is contracted by B.C. Transit to provide service, said it would no longer be stopping outside the food court due to safety issues. Council has been told there were a number of close calls at the stop with vehicles pulling in and out.
Politicians spoke out earlier this year asking the Village Green Centre and B.C. Transit to find another solution. According to Mund, the city tried to negotiate a land swap with the Village Green Centre in hopes of creating a safer stop, but no agreement was reached with the owner, Bentall Kennedy.
“As council, we are not happy with the decision,” Mund says. “I don’t know how this makes it any safer for residents who not only use the mall, but use transit.”
Council will write a letter to Bentall Kennedy expressing its displeasure with the decision, but because the stop is on private land, there’s not much the city can do.
“All I can do is ask the rest of the general public as well to state their case,” Mund says.
A spokesperson from the Village Green Centre said the matter is with corporate communications. A written statement was issued by Bentall Kennedy at 11 a.m. Nov. 30.
Scott Adam, the general manager of several Bentall Kennedy properties in the region, including the Village Green Centre, says in an email the company "understands and values the concerns of the community."
"Since safety concerns caused the bus stop to be moved last February, we have been working diligently with all parties involved to come to a permanent solution. Although we respect the council’s authority to make this decision, we intend to have further dialogue with B.C. Transit and the city on potential solutions to address the needs of our tenants, shoppers and members of the community," the statement reads.
Scott Adam can be contacted at sadam@BentallKennedy.com.
B.C. Transit issued a written statement to iNFOnews.ca at 3:30 p.m., Nov. 29.
"B.C. Transit works with our local partners to select and maintain safe locations for bus stops. In partnership with our local government it has been decided that the bus stop on 48 Avenue is the best location for the bus stop in this area. We will continue to work with our local partners to explore options for bus stops in this area."
— This story was updated at 5:22 p.m., Nov. 29, 2016 to include a statement from B.C. Transit and again at 11:25 a.m., Nov. 30, 2016 to add a statement from Bentall Kennedy.
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