A new look for Alta Vista Drive

After ten long years of concerted community action, with many delays and frustrations, the traffic calming/management measures for Alta Vista Drive are finally complete.
Since City restrictions prevented any meaningful measures to reduce the volume of traffic (only a moratorium on building new subdivisions to the south or the completion of alternate traffic routes such as the full AV Parkway will do that), the focus was on deterrents for the aggressive drivers and improved safety features for both pedestrians and bicycle riders. The two raised intersections at Kilborn and Pleasant Park place the pedestrians in a more obvious sight line and the speeding drivers feel the impact directly on their vehicle. Curbs at various sections along the Drive were bumped out, making it difficult for cars to whip out of the side streets and beat the traffic. The Brick pedestrian pathways at the on/off ramps at Smyth and Heron, the Cunningham STOP, and Randall Fire station area all designed in the typical pedestrian piano key style easily recognized by drivers across the city. Unlike the painted lines that have to be redone yearly, these are a permanent fixture and in keeping with a capital city. The textured brick is a tactile reminder that pedestrians have the right to cross the street and should be respected. A new method of pedestrian markings, a plastification process, is being used at Ridegmont and at Charles H. Hulse school crossings. Finally, the bicycle paths were widened to ensure safer cycling, and to deter illegal passing by cars.

How did this all happen and why does it take ten years to bring these somewhat modest measures into place?

Out of frustration, anger and impatience, three community minded Alta Vista Drive residents collaborated, with a vision to not only make the Drive safer for pedestrians and cyclists, but also to bring back its original stately appearance as a residential collector street. Fed up with the volume of cars using the Drive, fed up with the aggressive and disrespectful drivers ignoring pedestrians and cyclists, Garry Lindberg, Dorothy Valliant and Brenda Ellacott met in 2005 and started a plan of action. What changes you see now on Alta Vista Drive are the results of hours of volunteer community service by many residents that has finally come to fruition after 10 long years.

The first step was to revitalize the Alta Vista Drive Residents Association, an association that has existed since it helped create Alta Vista Drive with its curves and sweeping boulevards (from the former Churchill Drive, a country gravel road that ended at Cunningham.)

The cooperation of the Alta Vista Community Association was obtained, and under the guidance of our former councillor Peter Hume the required process was initiated. This began with a petition signed by almost 100% of the Alta Vista Drive residents asking for a formal traffic study to be implemented. City staff agreed that a study was warranted under the criteria and City Hall gave the go ahead to launch the study. Morrison, Hershfield Engineers were hired by the City to conduct the traffic study and to work with an advisory group of Alta Vista residents to work out a plan. Police, Fire, Emergency and an assortment of other departments were all included in the consultation. The advisory group was composed of engineers, pollution experts, a former AVCA president, school reps, and concerned citizens. They met regularly with the consulting firm to hash out acceptable solutions under the very strict city options. Common sense solutions put forward by the committee did not pass the city’s “warranted” options. After hours and hours of meetings and hundreds of phone calls by volunteers, three public consultations were held and an agreed-upon solution was found and approved by City Council. Then there was a multi year wait for funding, plus another two year effort to finally complete the agreed changes.

If you are a pedestrian in Alta Vista, you will appreciate the safety measures put in place. If you are a cyclist, then you should have greater peace of mind. If you are an aggressive driver that wants to get somewhere fast, then stick to the arterial roads or ask the City to complete the Alta Vista Parkway. More than a thousand hours of volunteer time over a period of 10 years helped bring these Traffic Calming Measures to completion. It took dedication, will power, buckets of perseverance and most importantly a vision of how to make Alta Vista Drive better. If you want something done, you had better be prepared for hard work. The next time you drive along Alta Vista Drive, slow down and think of safety before speed.

Garry Lindberg & Brenda Ellacott


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