Along the Beaver Bank Connector, as it goes under Highway 101, there’s a sign showing no pedestrians, but that sign does little as a deterrent for area residents trying to cross to or from the Sackville Manor Mobile Home Park and the Sackville bus terminal.
“There’s a lot of people who do travel this everyday,” said local resident Wendy, who didn’t give her last name, and who walks along the busy road crossing multiple lanes of traffic each day to take a bus to and from work.
“Even when my kids were smaller, we travelled this highway,” she said.
It’s not because it’s safe, Wendy acknowledges herself it’s not safe, but it’s the quickest option by far.
The safer route is to head through the mobile park, down Walker Service Road, and then up old Sackville Road to the bus terminal.
“It’s about an hour,” said Wendy.
The more popular way is to walk along the Beaver Bank Connector on-ramp, under the 101 overpass, across three lanes of busy traffic and up a slight hill to the bus terminal. That route is less than 10 minutes.
“It’s not safe, but what can you do, you have to do it,” said Wendy, who admits she herself isn’t comfortable with the route despite walking it for nearly 30 years.
Over the past decade there have been two fatalities after pedestrians were hit trying to cross the busy roads in the area.
“To be able to have something in place to make it safer for people, it’s absolutely required,” said Paul Russell, regional councillor for the area.
Russell is pushing to move forward with plans make it safer. Currently there are three options on the table.
This first option is the least favoured option. It would require the shortest pedestrian bridge, but would be the longest path to the Sackville Transit Terminal.
The second option, Russell says, was most popular among local residents. He says during an informal survey he conducted in the fall of nearly all mobile park residents, every single person chose this option.
It would place a multi-use trail, with barricades to separate it from traffic, alongside the Beaver Bank Connector where people are already walking, and then a pedestrian bridge over traffic directly to the Sackville Transit Terminal.
The third option is most favoured by provincial officials, and has a pedestrian bridge directly over Highway 101. However, it would require acquisition of land from the mobile home park and the removal of one mobile home.
Russell says he’d like to see the municipality focus on the second option since that’s what’s most favoured by residents.
“If we build a structure that one party wants, or it’s done for a particular reason and then everybody still uses the route everybody’s (already) using, that would be the worst thing that could happen,” said Russell.
“(Residents) agree that the preferred option is the same route they’re taking now, just make it safer.”
Council however will need to work with the province on this project as much of the land is provincially owned. At a transportation standing committee meeting on Thursday, the committee voted unanimously to proceed with planning of the project and to collect further community and stakeholder feedback before making a more informed decision on the best option.
While there has been talk of a safer route for years, and this project will still take years to complete, Russell says he’s passionate about seeing this through.
“A lot of (residents) have been discouraged because this has been a long time coming and they didn’t think anything like this would ever happen. I’d like to prove them wrong,” said Russell.
“I would like to see this happen to make it safer for them.”