Last week, the Town of Drumheller and iTrans Consulting Inc. hosted a heated public revealing of the downtown parking study focused on 3 Avenue West.
On Thursday, April 30, at the Civic Centre, Tomasz Kroman of iTrans led the crowd of 80 members of the Downtown Merchants Association and general public through the recommendations on improving traffic flow along 3 Ave. W and 2 St. W.
The study cites the current angle parking along 3 Ave. cannot be maintained due to the length of cars waiting at the light queues of the 3 Ave. W and 2 St. W intersections.
Kroman stressed this was only a study, and it will “not be implemented quickly without the businesses' input.”
“Changes on 2 St. W have made (3 Ave. W) even more vital to Drumheller,” Kroman said, adding Drumheller sees an increase of traffic by over 50 per cent in the summer season, with the arrival of flocking tourists.
The study presented recommends the approach on 3 Ave. to 2 St. should be modified to two lanes approaching westbound and one going east. This would leave the north side of the street with only 30 stalls of parking, said Kroman, with angle parking removed and parallel introduced between 2 Street and Centre Street
“We have a small town attitude, and if you can’t find parking that’s convenient, you drive around the block,” said one man at the meeting, and another labelling the proposed plan “economic suicide” for the businesses along 3 Ave.
John Shoff, owner of Reality Bytes Inc., who operates his store on 3 Ave., said he and fellow merchants are fearing the proposed changes.
"Really," Shoff says, "it seems like very little planning has gone into this."
"According to the proposed map I read, the closest parking lot to me will be the Tastee Delight parking area. I can't see our customers parking there and carrying a computer, monitor, printer for repair," he said while adding, "which to me is unacceptable."
The town is prepared to provide additional parking locations that would be developed two to five minutes walking distance within the downtown, “compensation for the lost parking stalls.”
An overhead red four way flasher is also recommended to be installed at the intersection of 3 Ave and Centre Street.
“The avenue is dangerous now, most people here drive trucks and in the summer we have the tourists which cause problems,” said Kroman. “Cars waiting in the light queue have been backed up into the intersections (of 1 Street W.), which is extremely dangerous.”
The study is in no way the final draft or plan, and Kroman had said there will be “no happy medium”, but the study is aimed to find a way to make it work for the majority through public consultation.
At the Committee of the Whole meeting on Monday, May 4 the mayor had said town council would tentatively hold a public meeting on Thursday, May 14, to deal with the problem as soon as possible.
CAO Ray Romantez said the traffic problem on 3 Ave. has existed for the past few years. Romanetz said changes need to be made regardless of the flow problem the province created, with the construction on Gordon Taylor Bridge and the intersections along 2 St. W.
The integration of widened lanes would be inexpensive for the town, it would only involve the painting of new traffic lines.