David Reid of Ministry of Transportation and Infrastructure staff speaks to members of the public during a public info session at the Friendship Centre on Wednesday, Nov. 21. ELENA RARDON PHOTO

Provincial dialogue begins over Cathedral Grove traffic

Transportation ministry holds open houses asking for suggestions

Port Alberni residents who missed a public open house last week will still have a chance to provide input on the traffic and pedestrian problems at Cathedral Grove.

Located in MacMillan Provincial Park, Cathedral Grove has become a local, national and international attraction, but its popularity has also led to issues surrounding pedestrian safety and parking along the highway.

An open house at the Friendship Centre on Wednesday, Nov. 21 provided an opportunity for members of the public to chat with employees from the Ministry of Transportation and Infrastructure. A number of storyboards and posters walked through the safety concerns that have already been raised to the Ministry.

“This is an opportunity to start having that dialogue,” said Janelle Staite, regional deputy director with the Ministry, on Wednesday. “For tonight, we’re not bringing solutions. We’re looking for feedback from the public.”

Those who missed the session last week can still engage online via http://engage.gov.bc.ca/cathedralgrove. Visitors can view storyboards from the open houses, sign up for project updates and provide feedback through a questionnaire that asks a number of specific questions. Feedback will be accepted until Jan. 4. Comments or questions can also be submitted to the project team by calling 250-751-3126 or emailing cathedralgrove@gov.bc.ca.

Following this feedback will be an engagement summary report in Spring 2019, said Staite.

“The intent is to work really collaboratively to understand how we address the concerns of the park while also preserving the park,” said Staite.

Cathedral Grove sees about half a million visitors per year, said Staite. There are currently about 50 parking spots available.

“The actual demand for [parking] exceeds that by about double,” said Staite. “Parking is a key concern.” Other concerns include pedestrians crossing the road unpredictably, congestion and cars attempting unsafe turns.

“We want to close that potential safety concern that could turn into a crash,” said Staite.

Linh Tran was one of a few Alberni District Secondary School students attending the public session on Wednesday. Although Tran is still a learner driver, she has already had to maneuver through the Grove during peak season.

“The parking lot and pedestrians crossing the road are the biggest issues that I consider,” she said, adding that she was happy to see a public event addressing some of these concerns.

Port Alberni resident Sandy McRuer pointed out that the problem is growing and getting worse every year.

“People are going to have to make some concessions somehow,” he said. “It’s going to grow, whether you like it or not.”

He suggested adding more messaging for pedestrians as a short-term plan. “There’s lots of messaging to drivers already,” he said. “But not a lot for pedestrians.”

A few more ideas were heard throughout the night: many suggested keeping a separation between pedestrians and traffic, either with barriers or an underpass or overpass. One person suggested adding a traffic light. Others recommended building another road entirely—possibly an extension of the highway from Horne Lake to Cherry Creek.

In the meantime, the Ministry of Transportation and Infrastructure will continue listening to ideas, before sharing initial safety concepts with the public.

“This really is just an early stage,” said Staite. “There [are] a number of different ideas that have been out there. We want to see what ideas resonate and what ideas are concerning.”

elena.rardon@albernivalleynews.com

Just Posted

Alberni Valley firefighters pass the boot for Muscular Dystrophy

Annual fundraiser started in 1967 with Port Alberni Fire Department

Cougars spotted in Sproat Lake neighbourhoods

ACRD director warns residents to keep children, pets close

Who are the Frozen Franklins? Find out at the Alberni Valley Museum

The museum and Echoes in the Ice exhibit are open April 20 during Easter weekend

Former teacher returns to Port Alberni to lead Alzheimer’s Walk

Jory Mitchell celebrates his journey with late wife and her Alzheimer’s diagnosis

Pacific Rim National Park Reserve issues cougar warning at Kennedy Lake

Cougar encounter reported between Tofino and Ucluelet.

‘No answers:’ Canadians react to Sri Lanka bombings that killed hundreds

The co-ordinated bomb attacks killed at least 207 people and injured 450 more on Easter Sunday

RCMP confirm witnesses say body found at Kelowna’s Gyro Beach

Police tape is blocking part of the beach and several RCMP officers are on scene.

B.C. fire department rescues kittens

Enderby homeowner not aware kittens in wood pile near garbage pile fire that got out of hand

QUIZ: How much do you know about Easter?

Take this short quiz and put your knowledge to the test

B.C. VIEWS: NDP’s lawyer show is turning into a horror movie

Court actions pile up over pipelines, car insurance, care aides

Global Affairs warns Canadians in Sri Lanka there could be more attacks

A series of bomb blasts killed at least 207 people and injured hundreds more

Waste not: Kootenay brewery leftovers feed the local food chain

Spent grains from the Trail Beer Refinery are donated to local farmers and growers, none go to waste

Deck collapses in Langley during celebration, 35 people injured

Emergency responders rushed to the Langley home

Most Read