Raised in Westsyde, Debra Rossen still values its slower pace, even as the pace of traffic along the neighbourhood’s main thoroughfare speeds up.
Rossen and her family live where four-lane Westsyde Road narrows to two lanes at The Dunes golf course. Although the speed limit remains 60 km/h, some drivers accelerate, reaching speeds of 80-110 km/h, and there are no sidewalks.
She has an eight-year-old son who catches the school bus to David Thompson elementary.
“There’s no way I’d let him walk down Westsyde Road,” she said. “I’m just too freaked out.”
Rossen recognizes that speeding along Westsyde Road has been a longstanding issue. After two vehicle accidents in the past week, she wonders if the community will act to prevent more tragedies. She urges greater community action and police enforcement along the stretch. She’s even willing to volunteer for a speed-reader board as a traffic calming measure.
“It’s a gong show out here, parents waving to motorists to slow down. Everyone thinks it can’t happen to them.”
Diane Kuchma, president of Westsyde Community Development Society, said her group is well aware of the issue and has heard from other residents about it.
“I wouldn’t cross that road,” she said. “I drive it every day. I try to keep at 60 to 65 km/h and everybody’s going by me. And it’s not just young people, either.”
The society board doesn’t have a stand on the issue. She doesn’t believe that narrowing the highway is a viable option; there is too much traffic and that might only make the problem worse. The community rejected that approach in any case.
“I still think that more policing, more tickets would help. Is that the solution? It’s hard to know.”
The closure of nearby Westsyde elementary years ago meant that more children had to walk further to school, increasing the hazard, Rossen said.
The rural area has built up and more residential development is planned, meaning the problem will only worsen, she suggested. Two vehicle accidents in the past week have heightened her concerns. Gravel trucks and logging trucks are racing past at all hours, a danger for cyclists as well.
“I know the City just considers us a bunch of farmers out here, when in fact, there are not many farmers left,” Rossen said.
With increased population in the area, she figures that Westsyde elementary could be re-opened, possibly reducing the risk.
“Yes, drivers need to slow down and pedestrians have to be aware, but if the school re-opened, it would cut down on (pedestrian) traffic.”