A proposed apartment building just east of Sumas Way will have to wait for council’s approval while city staff try to come up with a better plan to alleviate traffic chaos in the area.
A developer hopes to build a six-storey apartment building at the corner of Marshall Road and Eleanor Avenue.
But residents who live along nearby Guilford Drive say the project would increase the traffic troubles that already exist in their area. Residents say hundreds of drivers do U-turns every day on Guilford in order to head the opposite direction on Marshall. They said the drivers have damaged property and left the area unsafe for children.
The city says an eventual connection between South Fraser Way’s eastern terminus and Eleanor would alleviate many of the issues. But that work is tied to the development of a pair of large properties between the two dead-ends.
A median will soon be erected to prevent left turns onto Eleanor from Marshall, but residents on Guilford say that would only aggravate the traffic problems along their street.
Councillors expressed sympathy for residents, noting that the area’s traffic pattern will almost require U-turns for many future Eleanor residents.
Coun. Brenda Falk asked how, exactly, drivers coming from the east are supposed to get onto Eleanor Avenue.
“They can’t go left, so they have to go somewhere and make a U-turn,” she said. “How do they turn around without going around an entire city block?”
A city staffer conceded that drivers from the west would need to “plan” their commute to determine how to best get home.
Coun. Patricia Ross, who lives in the area, said she has seen the traffic problems and that she wouldn’t vote to approve the project without having issues being solved.
“We need to have these answers nailed down first before we move forward,” she said. “These traffic issues are happening now, anyway.”
Many residents said the South Fraser Way extension should be immediately built if the project does proceed. Coun. Ross Siemens said that would also reduce problems during construction, and Coun. Dave Loewen suggested the city consider finding a way to build the road itself.
“I think we need to move some mountains to alleviate some of this,” Loewen said.
Staff repeatedly said that the South Fraser Way extension was the best solution to the issue. But they also said completion of the road remains tied to nearby development because the city doesn’t currently possess a right-of-way for the land. The owner of that land is different than the one proposing the six-storey building before council on Monday.
But an application is currently before the city and Darren Braun, the city’s director of planning development, said the owner would like to speed up the process.
“That is very doable, and that developer would like nothing more than to build that road and build their townhouses sooner rather than later,” Braun told council.
He also noted that a road, should an agreement be reached with the developer, could be completed quicker than the apartment building proposed.
After hearing from residents for more than an hour, and another half hour of discussion, council voted Monday to put the proposal on hold pending more information from staff about how the traffic issues could be reduced. A report, with figures and timelines, has been requested from staff within the next two months.
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