Vernon council oppose staff and vote to raise speed limit on Commonage Road | iNFOnews | Thompson-Okanagan's News Source

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Vernon council oppose staff and vote to raise speed limit on Commonage Road

The sightlines at the intersection of Mission Road and Bench Row Road in Vernon are pictured in this photo taken Thursday, Nov. 14, 2019.
November 14, 2019 - 12:20 PM

Vernon city council has voted to increase the speed limit on Commonage Road going against a staff recommendation which suggested doing so would make the road more dangerous.

Following a lengthy debate at a meeting yesterday, Nov. 12, council voted four to three to increase the speed limit to 70 km/h on Commonage Roads where the speed is currently 60 km/h.

City staff had recommended not to increase the current speed limit, outlining in a detailed report the 89 collisions, 30 which had led to injuries and one that was fatal, which took place on parts of Mission and Commonage roads between 2013 and 2017.

"I found the reasons against the speed increase to be a little bit spurious... I think it should be increased to 70 km/h," Councillor Scott Anderson said.

Anderson's reasons to go against what City engineers had recommended didn't appear to sit well with City of Vernon transportation manager Amanda Watson.

"As a member of the Engineers and Geoscientists B.C. it's my duty to uphold public safety," Watson told council.

Watson pointed to limited vision on one part of the road where the speed limit should be 50 km/h and that section was currently 60 km/h.

"The collision history demonstrates that the current speed limit and current road conditions drivers regularly fail to travel safely," she said.

Watson said the Ministry of Transport had also said it would not be increasing the speed limit on the section of Commonage Road under provincial jurisdiction.

"My understanding is the MIT would increase (the speed limit) if the City did?" Coun. Anderson said, questioning her statement.

"They haven't said that, they said they would now move onto a review," Watson said.

"That's a different thing than the Ministry saying they would not do it," Coun. Anderson replied.

The dispute over the speed limit isn't the first time Anderson, as well as other councillors, have come to loggerheads with City staff.

In August councillors asked for the third time for a quote on hiring private security after City staff repeatedly failed to obtain one. At the time Anderson described the process as "frustrating."

The request for an increase in the speed limit came from a petition containing roughly 250 signatures spearheaded by Lorne Holowachuk, a former City of Vernon and Ministry of Transportation engineer.

Councillor Akbal Mund spoke against the increase saying that allowing vehicles to travel at 70 km/h would mean they drove at 90 km/h.

"When you've got residents along that road that don't want that speed I'd rather listen to the residents, rather than the people who use the road to get from point A to point B," Coun. Mund said. "I won't be supporting it."

Councillors Anderson, Brian Quiring, Kelly Fehr and Dalvir Nahal voted in favour of an increase, with Mayor Victor Cumming and Councillors Kari Gares and Mund opposed.

To contact a reporter for this story, email Ben Bulmer or call (250) 309-5230 or email the editor. You can also submit photos, videos or news tips to the newsroom and be entered to win a monthly prize draw.

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