A proposal to change the vehicle and pedestrian layout of Second Avenue in Fernie to better serve businesses is being presented to the public for feedback.
After the original pitch from Phil Gadd and Angela Magliocco at a May 19 committee of the whole meeting, the proposition has undergone a number of changes. City council members discussed several options for Second Ave. at a June 8 regular meeting of council and then directed staff to look into further options for the space between 4th Street and 7th Street.
At the June 15 committee of the whole meeting, director of operations Zabrina Pendon shared the latest iteration of the possible plans for Second Ave.
The city’s newest proposition would see Second Ave. between 4th and 7th Street turned into a one way street. It would also include a one way bike lane, separated from vehicle traffic by a 0.6 metre buffer zone and road paint. Angled parking would be offered on the east side of the street while the west side would see a 5.6 metre temporary commercial use expansion area where business owners could extend their business outside. This temporary commercial space would be separated from the bike and vehicle lanes by concrete barriers, although this idea met some opposition from council members questioning the necessity and cost of the barriers.
If no changes were made to the proposition, the cost of the project would total $36,750. The estimated cost for signage would be $1,750 per block while road paint is estimated at $3,000 and the concrete barriers would check in at $7,500 per block.
The new proposal addresses several concerns that came up in previous conversations surrounding the changes. For example, even with angled parking on only one side of the street, the number of parking stalls would increase. There would be 22 regular parking spots, four accessible spots and four loading zone spots per block. Two accessible parking spots would be placed at either end of the block, making it easy to access sidewalk ramps on street corners. This new parking set up would increase the number of accessible parking spots on each block from the current one, to four.
With the proposition of parking changes and a bike lane comes a proposed speed limit reduction from 40 km/h to 30 km/h as well.
“This proposal is to better accommodate the traffic movement of people backing out of the traffic stalls into the driving lane and to further encourage safety for the shared use with the bike lane,” Pendon explained to council members in the meeting.
Although the new design was generally well received by council, there were some important discussions surrounding the specifics of the project. For example, counsellor Troy Nixon expressed concern with the direction of the one way street, noting that traffic should move towards the ski hill so that people could still see and enjoy the classic downtown Fernie view.
In her presentation, Pendon noted that the direction of traffic flow has yet to be finalized but that both directions are valid options. She also added that there are several considerations that still need to be addressed, including how to ensure equitable access to the commercial expansion area for businesses on both sides of Second Ave.
Another important consideration that came up was the intended duration of the proposed changes.
“This solution, interim in nature, simply considers the historic downtown and the immediate needs to support opportunities for increased patronage for businesses in the area,” Pendon said, adding that the changes would be a temporary thing as the city continues to work toward their overall Integrated Transportation Master Plan.
Although many of the specifics of the plan are still in the works, the City of Fernie has launced a public survey to determine community support for the new proposal. Mayor Ange Qualizza and other council members stressed the fact that community and business engagement on this project is of the utmost importance and no plans would move ahead without the support of the community.
The survey can be accessed on the City of Fernie website or paper copies can be picked up at city hall until the deadline on July 2, 2020.