Two residents of 68 Street raised some serious safety concerns with the town council during the regular meeting of the councillors on Tuesday, Nov. 3.
Tracey Marko and Kelsey McNeil briefed the council on what they perceived as potential danger to residents, particularly children, living on 68 Street, which is south of the Stettler Recreation Centre, near the newer ball diamonds. The pair explained that with homes on both sides of the street, with vehicles and RVs parked out front, there’s already been some “close calls” with people trying to back out of their driveways.
Mostly, though, they’re afraid it won’t be someone backing out who’s hit by traffic, but rather a child, as the area is home to several families with young children. If it’s not a child, though, it could just as easily be an adult, as there’s no sidewalks in the area.
Marko and McNeil canvassed the street, garnering comments from almost every single resident on the stretch that has the pair concerned.
“We didn’t want to wait until someone was hurt or killed before we did something,” McNeil said.
The complaints were boiled down to the basics — people drive too fast on the road, and at all hours of the day.
Melissa Robbins, the town’s director of operations, also attended the meeting to be able to offer her feedback, and said that she lived near the area in question and that yes, people did drive pretty quickly on the road, which is a “residential collector” — a street that’s built wider in anticipation of higher traffic, as residential traffic will likely collect on it.
The delegation, which had several residents sitting in the gallery, didn’t just come with complaints, but also potential solutions. They suggested lowering the speed limit, adding sidewalks, creating better lighting on nearby walking paths, installing stop signs or even speed bumps.
“I hate to say this, but I hate speedbumps,” Robbins said, explaining that speedbumps slow down plowing in areas and create other logistical headaches.
Councillor Darcy Bachman also put in his two cents, noting that he lives on a street between two stop signs, and those stop signs haven’t solved anything. In fact, it’s like they’ve created a small racing lane.
“It’s like a competition to see how fast they can get from one stop sign to the next,” he said.
McNeil noted that she expected some push back if the option was sidewalks, as the area would have to decide if it was on one side of the street or both; if on one side, which side, and where would the RVs park, if sidewalks cut into their parking space.
With the nearby walking paths unlit, however, it’s not an option to walk on them, McNeil said.
“It can be quite scary to walk on them in the dark,” she said, pointing out that in the winter, when it’s most dangerous to walk on the road where it’s slippery and rutted, dark comes early.
Mayor Dick Richards thanked the group for coming with their concerns, but took particular pains to commend them on also coming with potential solutions — something that while not uncommon, is not the norm, he said.
New RCMP Dteachment commander Sgt. Phil Penny following the discussion noted that the problem may not be people driving too fast — it may be that the speed limit is set too high for the area. He told the delegation that if they knew what times of day the speeding was at its highest, he could send out a patrol to watch the area and help slow things down.
Robbins invited the group to be in touch to set up a speed study on the road and talk about potential solutions further.
New detachment commander meets councilBefore listening to 68 Street issues, Stettler town council welcomed the new RCMP detachment commander and prodigal son Sgt. Phil Penny, who took command on Oct. 26. Penny was accompanied by the new detachment corporal, Ryan Koehli, who’d been introduced to council previously.
Penny introduced himself and spoke about his experiences — serving in Banff and Pond Inlet, Nunavut, as a constable, in Whale Cove, Nunavut, as a corporal and detachment commander, and then in Blackfalds as corporal and supervisor.
“Being in Pond Inlet taught me how to be a detachment commander, and being in Blackfalds taught me how to supervise a large number of people,” Penny said. “Now I get to bring that together here in Stettler.”
Town chooses to ditch Battle River Watershed AllianceEven though the Town of Stettler’s water needs are serviced by the Red Deer River, the town itself lies within the Battle River Watershed (BRW), and as such has been an unpaying member of the Battle River Watershed Alliance (BRWA).
The town chose to not pay into the organization because its water needs are served by the Red Deer River, and thus do not impact the BRWA.
The information came up at the Nov. 3 council meeting because the BRWA was again asking Stettler to become a paying member, but instead, the town chose to withdraw completely, citing that there was no gain for the community to be part of the group.