Monday April 21, 2014

Orchards Walk approved to grow

Council convinced subdivision's traffic worries will be solved
file photo

Large earth movers sit ready to go next to homes in the Orchards Walk subdivision in Valleyview.

Kamloops City council unanimously voted to expand housing in the Orchards Walk subdivision by 219 units more than originally proposed.

While City staff supported the plan because there would be transit provided to the area and existing utility services are adequate, some residents of the area objected to the increase in density.

Jim Freathy, who has lived on Valleyview Drive for 42 years, said his main concern was the increase in traffic on his street.

Valleyview Drive gets used more than the highway by people commuting west, he said. Grand Boulevard, which is the highway access point for Orchards Walk, has slow signals for those who need to turn left to head downtown.

Valleyview Drive, on the other hand, has one stop sign between Orchards Walk and downtown.

He said the City’s intent was for 80 per cent of Orchards Walk traffic to use the highway westbound toward town, 15 per cent using Valleyview Drive and the other five per cent heading east on the highway.

But his experience with the first phases of Orchards Walk is that much of the traffic uses Valleyview Drive instead of the highway.

A man who lives in the Braeburn subdivision of Orchards Walk said some people have built in their garages and are using them as a living space or for workshops.

Many end up having to park large trucks off their properties, which causes congestion in the streets.

Architect Richard Hunter said the phases being rezoned would include single-family houses along Valleyview Drive with double garages in the back, which should improve some of the parking issues.

Townhhouses would be built closer to the highway. A commercial space is slated for Grand Boulevard and further east would be a seniors’ care facility with up to 200 units and underground parking.

Another Orchards Walk resident, who lives in the Cortland Park part, said people are parking on both sides of Valleyview Drive near his area and he expects he will end up with a car in his front  entrance one of these days.

City community planning manager Randy Lambright said the City would work with the Ministry of Highways on the light timing at the Grand Boulevard intersection when more housing gets built.

The next phase of construction will also spark the connection of Grand Boulevard and Valleyview Drive, and with that will come transit through the area.

That information was enough to convince council members that most of the traffic issues could be resolved and they all voted to support the rezoning. Coun. Tina Lange was absent.

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