A turn-control median at the intersection of Opal and Rock City Roads. (Chris Bush/News Bulletin)

Nanaimo council sticks with Opal Road decision despite residents’ call for reconsideration

Opal Road delegation claims 'breakdown in the democratic process'

Opal Road residents appealed to city council, concerned that more speeding and safety issues will return to their street, but council chose not to reconsider its decision.

At a meeting May 3, councillors voted 5-4 to tear up the turn-control measures at Opal Road and Rock City Road and return the intersection to its previous alignment, going against staff’s recommendation. At the meeting Monday, May 17, a delegation of three Opal Road residents asked council to reconsider that decision.

“The calming measures really worked,” said Tony Dobson, a longtime Opal Road resident. “We were so pleased with the peace and tranquility that happened and in my way of thinking, [Opal] was not supposed to be a thoroughfare to Rock City.”

Opal Road resident Errin Poyner said the delegation was asking for a reconsideration motion because she noted that at the May 3 meeting, both Mayor Leonard Krog and Coun. Erin Hemmens indicated interest in further public engagement, but no motion was made to that effect and both subsequently voted in favour of Coun. Zeni Maartman’s motion to put Opal Road back the way it was.

“The May 3 resolution represents a breakdown in the democratic process,” said Poyner. “A motion has been passed that did not conform to the express views of a majority of the members of council. As a result, the public has been deprived of its right of natural justice, including adequate notice and a fair hearing in a matter of public importance. The few drivers who persist in driving around the barriers have succeeded in defeating the rule of law.”

RELATED: Nanaimo city council votes to return Opal Road to the way it was

Under city council’s procedures, only the mayor or councillors who voted with the majority could ask for a reconsideration motion. Coun. Don Bonner, one of the four councillors who had been outvoted May 3, tried to make a motion May 17 to ask for community engagement and another staff report on Opal Road, but he was deemed out of order.

Poyner, speaking with the News Bulletin after the meeting, said it’s “disgraceful” that council went against the recommendation in a “comprehensive” staff report to seemingly base a decision “solely on anecdote, supposition and undisclosed sources of information.”

She said Opal Road residents will continue to engage with the city on the matter.

“There remains a safety issue on Opal Road and if the council is going to capitulate to the residents who want to use Opal Road as a shortcut and often a racetrack, for political purposes, then it has a corresponding obligation to address the safety issue in some other fashion,” Poyner said.

RELATED: Nanaimo city council narrowly votes down motion to return Opal Road to the way it was

RELATED: Nanaimo city council asks for another report on ‘high-speed shortcut’ residential road

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