WE ALL KNOW the difference between a highway and a street. A highway is a main road, where vehicles are able to move at high speeds. There are often multiple lanes. A highway is built for vehicles.
Summit Drive, from McGill Road down to the hairpin turn, then on to Victoria Street West to Mission Flats was built to be a highway. There are no sidewalks. There are no transit stops. There are no bike lanes. The posted speed is 60 km/h, but drivers often go faster.
From McGill Road down to Mission Flats, the Summit Drive/Victoria Street West “highway” works great for vehicles.
This “highway” works for vehicles, but it doesn’t work for people.
When Summit Drive/Victoria Street West road was built, all there was along it was sagebrush and rabbit bush.
The problem is that now this part of the city has more and more people. And they deserve infrastructure for people, not just for vehicles.
Guerin Creek subdivision which accesses Summit Drive has 60 houses. And that’s not counting the hundreds more from Fernie and Hudson Bay Trail which access Summit Drive through Guerin Creek.
Hudson’s Ridge subdivision, accessed at the hairpin turn, will have 100 or more houses when it is built out.
Further down, there are apartments on Victoria Street West.
And at the bottom of the hill, just off Victoria Street West, 55 people live on Mission Flats Road in supported housing.
Hundreds, if not thousands of people along Summit Drive/Victoria Street West with no sidewalks, no transit stops, and no bicycle lanes.
There’s a website, http://www.walkscore.com, which rates the walkability of neighbourhoods. Guerin Creek is 35 out of 100. Hudson’s Ridge Blvd, just a stone’s throw from Thompson Rivers University, has a walkability of 4 out of 100. Mission Flats, where few if any of the residents have vehicles, has a walkability score of 0.
That doesn’t mean people don’t walk. It just means that when they walk, it’s dangerous. Just this week I heard about some near misses of people walking along the edge of Summit Drive.
The Number 10 North Shore TRU Express bus goes up and down the Summit Drive/Victoria Street West route. There are no bus stops from the south end of Tranquille Road to when the bus reaches McGill Road near Concordia Way. This is a great bus route that gives direct access to north shore shopping and the university, and goes to two of the three city bus exchanges.
The bus goes directly by hundreds of people’s homes along this “highway” with no stops.
The Summit Drive/Victoria Street West corridor does a great job as a highway. But it does a lousy job of serving the neighborhoods along it. These are some of the closest neighborhoods to Sahali shopping and Thompson Rivers University. These people are minutes away from the North Shore as well. But without a vehicle, they might as well all live on Mars if they want to get out of their neighborhoods.
Shouldn’t areas closest to one of the largest employers in our city, like Thompson Rivers University, have better walking, transit and cycling options?
Streets, not highways, are what people in these neighborhoods need. Streets with safe walking, bus service and cycling routes.
Nancy Bepple is a former City councillor of Kamloops with a strong interest in community building projects.