The Chronology Of How Riverside Drive Got Speed Humps

As you read this chronology, it's important to remember that the issue is the safety of our neighbourhood. Speed is a safety factor but feedback from the RCMP has confirmed Riverside Drive is not a dangerous street and there are some indications that Riverside is safer than some comparable roads in terms of speed related incidents. In addition, neither District Staff, nor the people who have fought for the past six years to have the speed limit lowered, have ever presented any evidence that Riverside Drive is more dangerous than other comparable neighbourhoods. In fact, much of the information presented about traffic speed indicates that the speed limit on Riverside is too low and could be raised. While this would reduce the number of speeders, it's not a realistic solution and like speed humps, should not be forced on the neighbourhood. 

So, if our neighbourhood is as safe as others, why has a small minority fought for years to lower the speed? Is there a real issue? I think there is, but there are two parts:

  1. A small part of our neighbourhood is unhappy because they feel speed is making the community dangerous. Their perception isn't supported by the evidence, but the fact that they are unhappy should be addressed. We need to do this in ways that improve and create a more cohesive community rather than divide it as the speed humps have done. Solutions such as education and better enforcement of the existing laws may be what we need. 
  2. The larger problem is our District Council and Staff have only listened to a minority and has responded with a solution ??? that is hated by the majority of the neighbourhood. Their solution has escalated a small rift into a fight that is destroying the mutual respect needed to create a cohesive neighbourhood. 

I believe that the District will recognize the damage that the speed humps have done in the neighbourhood and that they will eventually remove them. The sooner this happens the better because it will allow mutual respect within the neighbourhood to be re-established so that we can address the original problem in a way that improves the neighbourhood for everyone.

We also need to recognize that the current policies used by the District are the reason why a small problem has escalated into a much bigger problem. The chronology shows how a small group has been able to manipulate the District. To correct this, District policy must be changed to require the support of the majority of the community before implementing traffic calming measures. This is a policy that most cities use to ensure changes like speed humps are supported. 

The Mayor and District Council also need to ensure that a group that claims to represent a neighbourhood is doing what they say. Council has listened to a few people who claim to be the Seymour Valley Community Association even though this group has never represented or was even known to most of the neighbourhood. A policy change must be made to protect neighbourhoods from this type of misrepresentation.

Lowering the Speed Limit 
May 27, 1996 - Council Meeting - Mr. Paul Gadon, - "...on behalf of the residents of Riverside Drive, appeared before Council and presented a petition recommending that the existing speed limit of 50 km/h on Riverside Drive between Mount Seymour Parkway and the 2200 block Chapman Way be reduced to 40 km/h..." Council deferred the item to the June 10, 1996 Executive Committee Meeting. 

June 17, 1996 - Council Meeting - Mr. Ray Burns, Ms Cindy Kettner ...expressed concern with the lack of speed controls on Riverside Drive.... Ms Sharon Brown, spoke in support of reducing the speed limit on Riverside Drive to 40 km/h... Council asked the staff to prepare a report by July 2, 1996 on all appropriate options for improving pedestrian safety on Riverside Drive, including; a) reducing the existing speed limit on Riverside Drive between Mount Seymour Parkway and the 2200 block Chapman Way from 50k to 40k with appropriate signage; and improvements to street lighting. 

August 12, 1996 - Council Meeting - Mr. Ray Burns, Mr. Blair Wilson, Ms Sharon Brown, Mr. Paul Gadon, Mr. Russ Curtis, Mr. Craig Thompson, Ms Leanne Dunster, spoke in favour of a 40 km/h speed limit... Mr. Alex Ritchie, spoke in support of 40 km/h speed limit on Riverside Drive... Council passed a motion that: 1) the speed limit on Riverside Drive between Mount Seymour Parkway and the 2200 block Chapman Way be reduced to 40 km/h for a trial period until March 31, 1997 with appropriate RCMP enforcement; 2) staff continue to meet with local residents to discuss other possible pedestrian safety and traffic calming options; and 3) staff provide a report back to Council following the trial period.

Note: District Staff and the RCMP did not support lowering of the speed limit. 

Returning the Speed Limit to 50 kph
October 6, 1997 - Council Meeting - Mr. Ray Burns spoke in favour of retaining the 40 km/h speed limit... Ms Michele Payne spoke in favour of returning the speed limit to 50 km/h, referred to a September 1, 1997 petition containing 212 signatures of support increasing the speed limit. Mr. Blair Wilson, Ms Ann Solheim, Mr. Craig Thompson, Ms Sharon Brown, Ms Carolyn Hayden, spoke in favour of retaining the 40 km/h speed limit on Riverside Drive... Council passed a motion to return the speed limit to 50 km/h; and following the return of a 50 km/h speed limit, that the RCMP provide an ongoing program of public awareness and speed enforcement. Council also passed a motion that staff report back to the October 14, 1997 Regular Council meeting on possible traffic calming measures for Riverside Drive, including cost estimates.

Note: When Council lowered the speed limit, they had not confirmed that the neighbourhood agreed with the problem or supported the solution. When they learned that there was no support and that lowering the speed limit was not in the best interests of the community, they had to reverse their decision. You would think that they would have learned from this failure. 

The Start of Riverside Traffic Calming
Note: The Seymour Valley Community Association (SVCA) was formed in 1997 with Ray Burns listed as its head. Some members of council have stated that they supported the changes in our community because they were from the elected representative of the SVCA.

October 20, 1997 - Council Meeting - Mr. Ray Burns expressed concern for safety of pedestrians, commuters and recreational users who utilize Riverside Drive, recommended a constructive traffic education program and implementation of permanent traffic measures. Ms Ann Solheim, suggested staff work with area residents to research the most effective traffic calming measures. Mr. Norm Nikkel, Assistant Manager - Traffic Department, presented a summary of benefits and drawbacks of speed reducing methods.... He indicated that any speed reducing program needs the support of the residents and an overall survey of all residents is essential for the success of such a program. A motion was carried by council that staff be directed to either liaise with the RCMP to continue periodic enforcement of the 50 km/h speed limit on Riverside Drive and conduct a survey of the neighbourhood to determine the level of support for traffic calming on Riverside Drive and report the survey results back to Council.

Note: Council was cautioned the support of the residents as indicated by an overall survey was essential for a successful traffic calming program.

January 16, 1998 - Council Meeting - District Staff sent out a survey asking Riverside residents if they feel that motorists on Riverside drive too fast and if they would support a proposal to implement traffic calming. A draft report dated March 25 showed that only 154 of 269 resident responded. Overall, 51% feel that motorists are driving too fast and only 35% support traffic calming.

Note: On October 20, 1997, Mr. Norm Nikkel, Assistant Manager - Traffic Department, indicated that any speed reducing program needs the support of the residents. This survey showed that there wasn't sufficient support for traffic calming but District Staff continued to do traffic speed and volume surveys throughout 1999. They also hire Hamilton Associates to develop a comprehensive Traffic Calming Program.

April 12, 1999 - Council Meeting - Gavin Joyce, P. Eng., Manager of Transportation and Public Works and Donna Howes, P.Eng., Assistant Manager - Transportation Planning present the Hamilton Report to Council for approval as the District's Neighbourhood Traffic Calming Program and Procedures. In their introductory report, they state that "In October 1997, Council reviewed traffic issues relating to Riverside Drive. Based on the results of this project, it was seen that there is a need to address the whole philosophy for neighbourhood traffic calming and to clarify the expectations of the program and to outline the roles of Council, staff and the neighbourhood." 

Note: This links the report back to the original concerns that were raised by Mr. Ray Burns, Mr. Blair Wilson, Ms Ann Solheim, Mr. Craig Thompson, Ms Sharon Brown, Ms Carolyn Hayden, on October 20, 1997 when the speed limit on Riverside Drive was returned to the normal limit of 50 km/h.

A motion was carried that the "Neighbourhood Traffic Calming Program and Procedures, as set out in the December 1, 1998 report of G.D. Hamilton Associates Consulting Ltd. be approved in principle; and that this report be referred to the Community Associations, North Vancouver Transportation Planning Advisory Committee (TPAC), the Advisory Planning Commission (APC) and the Federation of North Vancouver Community Associations (FONVCA), RCMP Traffic and Community Policing Sections for input, and a final report be returned to Council. 

August 23, 1999 - Council Meeting - Donna Howes, P. Eng., Assistant Manager, Transportation Planning, Ken Krueger, A.Sc.T -Transportation Planning brought the Hamilton Report back to council for final approval with minor amendments which included requirements for minor collectors. In terms of timing, Ms Howes reported that 'It is important that a procedure and program for traffic calming be endorsed as soon as possible which will guide current applications and assist staff in resolving current issues." A motion was carried that the Traffic Calming Policy for the District, as outlined in Attachment 1 of the July 20, 1999 report of the Assistant Manager, Transportation Planning and Traffic Technician -Transportation Planning, be ADOPTED. 

Note: Prior to Council's final approval of this report, a copy was sent to the Seymour Valley Community Association for comment. Comments from the SVCA were sent back to staff. It is assumed but has not been confirmed that these were provided by Ray Burns. It's important to note that a key criterion in the policy that the SVCA reviewed was that at least 50 percent of the surveys must be returned and that a majority must support a traffic calming study for the request to proceed. The survey conducted in March of 1998 showed that the majority of residents did not support traffic calming measures. It appears that the SVCA and District Staff ignored this requirement even though it was now part of the DNV Corporate Policy. 

January, 2001 - Council Meeting - Context Research Ltd was appointed to assist in the development of a Traffic Calming Strategy for Riverside Drive. 

Note: The survey conducted in 1998 did not show sufficient support to proceed with this appointment, nor was a new survey conducted. 

February 27, 2001 - Ray Burns hosted a traffic calming start up meeting at his home.

March 14, 2001 - A workshop was held at Capilano College. Invitations were sent to approximately 260 homes but only 50 residents attended. 

Note: Lack of attendance is a sign that people are not concerned. If people are not concerned about the problem it should not be assumed that they will support a solution that affects their lives on a daily basis. This was a huge RED FLAG that the District ignored.

March 29, 2001 - A resident survey was conducted by District Staff. Approximately 260 survey forms were sent out and 107 people responded. 

Note: This low response should have been interpreted as a lack of concern or support for traffic calming and did not meet the corporate policy requirement of a minimum return of 50%.

May 10, 2001 - A second workshop was held at Lynmour Elementary School. Attendance was only 28 people!

Note: District Staff ignored the big red flag in the first meeting but this dismal attendance was an indication that support for the project simply didn't exist. If there is no support for the project, how could the District expect support for a solution? The fact that a majority of people in a community don't support something doesn't entitle the minority to shove it down their throats. District Staff need to recognize this and take action to ensure that their recommendations do support the community rather than a small part of it.

May 31, 2001 - A resident survey was conducted by District Staff to determine support for speed humps. Only 116 of approximately 260 residences responded and of these only a slight majority favoured the speed humps as proposed or with modifications. In terms of the overall community the support was only 63 of 269 residences or 23%.

Note: This did not meet the need for community consensus for the proposed solution. 

July 16, 2001 - Mr. Ray Burns, urged Council to approve the installation of speed humps on Riverside Drive for the protection of all motorists and pedestrians. In her report, Donna Howes, P.Eng. - Assistant Manager, Transportation, recommended that the detailed design for the speed humps on Riverside Drive be completed and installed. Council passed a motion that the detailed design for the speed humps on Riverside Drive as shown in Diagram 3 of the July 3, 2001 report of the Assistant Manager, Transportation be completed and installed. 

Note: When Ms. Howes recommended Traffic Calming Policy to council she wrote that it is important to approve it quickly because it was needed to, "guide current applications and assist staff in resolving current issues". The intent and policy were clear but neither were followed. The basic policy requirements of using safety performance data (collisions, collisions involving speed etc) and the need for a clear support of the community (majority of residents must respond) were avoided in favour of supporting a minority of residents who have petitioned and lobbied council for more than six years. 

We didn't ask for speed humps, we have them because we didn't say no. This is negative marketing at its best (worst) and the result is a traffic calming measure that the community has soundly rejected!