blueberry light 

Council members were going in all directions Monday over the controversial Highway 99/Blueberry Drive signal light and a recommendation that the gate at the north end of Blueberry Hill be open to some transit vehicles. The matter was eventually tabled, pending a report from municipal staff, but not until after Mayor Ted Nebbeling went head to head with most of council over what he felt was an unfulfilled commitment council made to install the signal light. Council was presented with a recommendation by the Transportation Advisory Group that the signal light be installed, provided that: a) its operation be co-ordinated with the Village Gate Boulevard light, b) the installation is linked with the provision of a north-bound transit service, via an electronically operated gate, to the Whistler Cay and Blueberry Hill neighbourhoods, c) the resulting traffic situation is thoroughly monitored. That recommendation ran counter to most Blueberry Hill residents’ demand that the gate be replaced with a park and transit not be routed through Blueberry Hill. Council members felt the recommendation didn’t fully deal with the issue. Several councillors expected a report from municipal staff. Councillor Hugh O’Reilly noted the request for a park to replace the gate and felt council was obliged to respond one way or the other. However, Mayor Ted Nebbeling maintained that the signal light was the issue. "It was approved by council," he said. "I think we need to make a decision now. Council cannot abdicate its responsibility. "To me, it’s easy — we put the light in. I think safety is the issue at the intersection." Councillor Dave Kirk disagreed. "It’s not just a safety issue, safety is related to the amount of traffic." He added that he couldn’t support a decision to only put in the signal light. Councillor Kristi Wells said it was "irresponsible" to put the signal light in without studying the consequences. Council then asked John Nelson, director of public works, for a report on what council had approved last April after Nebbeling had successfully lobbied the Ministry of Highways for permission to install a signal light. Nelson said the light was discussed and staff was told to prepare for its installation, but no report from staff was given. Nelson then told council that because a right-turn lane out of Blueberry is now being considered the cost of the signal light has gone from about $150,000 to $250,000. "I would like to review this whole matter," Councillor Max Kirkpatrick said. "I thought we had approved it, now I’m not so sure. "The budget was $150,000, now it sounds like $250,000." Before voting to table the matter Councillor Bill Murray stressed that council members weren’t opposed to the signal light, but they needed more detailed information. O’Reilly noted that north-bound "transit" on Blueberry Drive doesn’t have to mean a regular bus, it could be vans or other vehicles that only operate during peak periods.

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