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City of North Van council approves final changes to St. Andrews Avenue

A design concept based on feedback from council and the community will see six key changes made to a much-debated stretch of St. Andrews Avenue in North Vancouver
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St. Andrews Avenue in North Vancouver is part of a long-debated traffic calming project. | Paul McGrath / North Shore News

City of North Vancouver council has approved street design changes for the section of St. Andrews Avenue between Keith Road and Ninth Street that aim to improve the safety and comfort of pedestrians, cyclists and drivers.

This follows a request made by council in July last year for staff to review community feedback and explore further design opportunities, as part of the wider, ongoing St. Andrews Avenue Improvements Project. When the city first introduced traffic calming changes to the street in 2021, it drew sharp blowback from large numbers of nearby residents who said the new design made the roadway too narrow and the placement of parking near intersections made it harder to see crossing pedestrians and oncoming vehicles turning onto the street.

The latest design, put forward by staff in a workshop on Wednesday and given the green light by council in a meeting on Monday, will see six key changes made to the much-debated section of roadway.

One speed bump will be added to each block to reduce driver speed, while the addition of delineators will better define parking and sightline zones. Changes will be made to clarify the intersection of St. Andrews at Keith Road, to make transitioning onto the street easier for drivers, and sightlines will be increased at intersections to improve driver-to-driver and driver-to-pedestrian visibility.

Staff have also promised to enhance the pedestrian refuge islands at crossings, to clearly outline where it is safe for pedestrians to look both ways before crossing the street, and to increase the road's width, to provide more comfortable conditions for drivers and downhill cyclists sharing the roadway.

The chosen design had been whittled down from 16 options. All were ranked against a scoring system that determined the impact each option would have on pedestrian and mobility device users, the comfort and safety it would bring to drivers, the effects it would have on parking in the area, the cost, and the encroachment the changes would have on the area.

In Monday’s meeting, Coun. Angela Girard acknowledged the difficulty staff had in choosing a design that balanced the needs of all the various road users, adding how the selected concept was a “good option” for keeping everyone happy.

Other council members said the concept offered many improvements, but still not enough to finalize the designs.

Coun. Shervin Shahriari said a more suitable design plan could have seen more attention given to sidewalks, more “aggressive” use of speed bumps, and the addition of more law enforcement in the area, while Coun. Holly Back said the recommended design meets many of the safety concerns previously expressed by council, but “not all of them.”

A number of residents attended Monday's meeting to voice their disapproval with the suggested design, arguing that more collaboration with the community was needed before a choice could be made. 

Coun. Tony Valente said the concept wasn’t his favourite choice, but added that it did address enough safety concerns to deserve to be given the go-ahead. Acknowledging how much time has been given to the issue, he said, “I think we need to move on.”

Council first approved a motion to reduce the speed limit on St. Andrews in 2020, with the Improvements Project launched shortly afterwards in 2021.

“This has been a long and difficult conversation, and I think we can all agree that it’s time to move forward,” said Mayor Linda Buchanan.

“It is clear this is the best and most cost-effective way to enhance safety for our road users in comparison to the 15 other options that council has analyzed and presented.”

Buchanan said the concept caters to the feedback heard from the community, including the requests made to improve sightlines, add delineators and speed humps, reduce speed and widen the road.

“We have to think about what will do the most good for the most amount of people,” she said.

The motion was carried four to three, with Mayor Linda Buchanan and Couns. Jessica McIlroy, Girard, and Valente in support, and Couns. Back, Don Bell and Shahriari against. 

Mina Kerr-Lazenby is the North Shore News’ Indigenous and civic affairs reporter. This reporting beat is made possible by the Local Journalism Initiative.

MKerrLazenby@nsnews.com
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