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Duncan council candidates trafficking in plans to hit the roads

Incumbent Phil Kent, left, and challenger Paul Fletcher are seeking the Mayor’s chair in Duncan. - Peter W. Rusland
Incumbent Phil Kent, left, and challenger Paul Fletcher are seeking the Mayor’s chair in Duncan.
— image credit: Peter W. Rusland

Speedy action on Duncan’s slow traffic, planned one-way streets and parking shortage isn’t likely, given answers from candidates at Dino’s Grill Tuesday.

Duncan Business Improvement Area Society hosted the huddle, which attracted about a dozen people.

Mayoral contender Paul Fletcher was among five candidates opposed to a proposal to make Canada Avenue one-way southbound, and Duncan Street one-way northbound.

“A new traffic plan is needed for controlling core traffic, including parking,” Fletcher said.

Details before decisions were also wanted by Jen Holden, Michelle Bell, Michelle Staples, and Judy Stafford.

Bell explained competition from big-box stores near downtown requires all road options remaining open to shoppers.

Staples suggested bike lanes to ease growing gridlock, not a “temporary fix.”

Most of the remaining candidates — including incumbent mayor Phil Kent — wanted more study about city traffic flow, but basically saw one-ways as an answer.

“Council’s made a commitment to support that traffic plan for the long-term,” Kent said.

“We’re facing gridlock if we don’t make some changes,” said incumbent Councillor Joe Thorne.

“We have to get both of those roads working together,” noted Bob Brooke.

But getting cars moving faster along Duncan’s clogged highway strip saw candidates stalled for solid answers.

Kent cited a 2005 Trans-Canada Highway Management Study by the city, North Cowichan, the CVRD, Cowichan Tribes and highways.

“We need to rejuvenate some of the plan to work toward its medium- and long-term solutions.

“Will it be a highway or a local urban road?”

Fletcher and incumbent Sharon Jackson noted a fleet of franchise needs and driveway accesses; Ranjit Dhami suggested the DBIA and chamber of commerce mull answers, including core gateways; Holden wanted strip revitalization and better signage; incumbent Tom Duncan noted the strip comprises four different jurisdictions.

Answers to downtown’s perennial parking shortage were also varied.

Fletcher’s answer — needing citizen and merchant input — focused on a parkade off Government Street, some short-term parking spots, closing downtown streets for Sunday shopping, more loading zones and free-parking.

Kent cited an ’04 Parking & Circulation Study, noting “it’s due for a review” involving merchants and Tribes.

Duncan urged more folks to walk or bike to downtown.

Jackson urged merchants to stop parking along main streets, while Brooke suggested limiting parking times to boost vehicle rotation.

Candidate Cassandra Barfield was absent during what was likely residents’ only chance to question all city hall hopefuls before the Nov. 19 vote.

Kent left the forum early for an appointment.

 

Candidates put to the question

Is it reasonable to restrict the right of private property owners to remove healthy trees?

Yes: Sharon Jackson

No: Bob Brooke, Joe Thorne

More study needed: Michelle Staples, Jen Holden, Michelle Bell, Tom Duncan, Ranjit Dhami, Judy Stafford, Dana Arthurs, Martin Barker.

Should Duncan try to change its boundaries?

Yes: Paul Fletcher, Phil Kent, Judy Stafford, Sharon Jackson, Joe Thorne, Ranjit Dhami, Martin Barker

No: Jen Holden, Bob Brooke

More study needed: Michelle Staples, Michelle Bell, Tom Duncan, Dana Arthurs

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