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Downtown Association request for rapid flashing lights sent to council

A request regarding rapidly flashing lights on 100 Ave from the Grande Prairie Down Association is being sent to Grande Prairie City Council for consideration. A letter presented to the Operational Services Committee Tuesday includes a request from the Downtown Association to share the cost of installing two sets of flashing lights in the 100 and 101 street areas.

In the letter, Downtown Association Board Chair Kristina McNeill says “There are several occasions members witnessed near misses with pedestrian[s] crossing in front of businesses. That has not changed In fact, Enforcement Services has had a recent collision at of these crosswalks.”

The letter continues to highlight concerns such as large vehicles in parking stalls creating blind spots so those who go to cross the street are unable to see oncoming traffic, and inconsistency of vehicles stopping for pedestrians with one stopping but another vehicle not. However, McNeill adds in her letter speed typically is not the culprit.

Councilor Chris Thiessen said during Tuesday’s meeting he was okay with the Downtown Association wanting to put two sets of lights, and asking for permission to do so but he would need convincing as to council moving forward because from what he has seen the plan presented to council a decade ago regarding traffic calming in the area is working.

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“Before we did the downtown revitalization the streets were a lot wider and they did have parking lanes, and people consistently drove 50, 60, sometimes 70 down the downtown roads,” Thiessen says. “[Now] what I frequently experience, is driving 30 to 40 kilometres an hour down that main road, every time I drive on it and it is because of the cars in front of me and the cars behind me. I also think it is because the streets are narrow and the traffic-calming engineering in that area is working.”

Thiessen adds if he was still seeing drivers going 50 to 60 kilometres an hour down the road he may be more in favour but another factor he is looking at is sometimes pedestrian crossings can create more hazards.

Councillor Wendy Bosche responded to Thiessen’s statements by saying she “rather hear screeching tires than someone hit.”

Councilor Kevin O’Toole brought up the question regarding where the funding for the lights would come from. While Councilor Dylan Bressey says he is interested in hearing more because they are hearing from members of the community saying they don’t feel safe when it comes to crossings in this area.

Installing a set of flashing lights is predicted to be in the neighbourhood of $25,000. If council were to move forward with the request they would pay for one set of lights to be installed while the Downtown Association would pay for the second.

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