The traffic plan for a proposed development at Squamish's gateway has neighbours raising eyebrows. But proponents of the mixed-use project say they've got it covered.
The Kingswood Crescent development along the Upper Mamquam Blind Channel shares the same challenges as its predecessor, the 2006 Red Point project, Dan Fay said during the project's open house on Wednesday (Sept. 25). He lives on Hospital Hill, the neighbourhood through which southbound residents coming into or leaving the proposed 425-unit residential subdivision would drive.
Clarke Drive's entry to Highway 99 is already congested, he said, noting it takes five vehicles at the junction to clog the Guilford and Clarke drive intersection. Add another 400-plus units to the mix and the roads will be dealing with approximately 1,000 additional people, Fay said.
“That's a tremendous amount of pressure,” he said.
The problem could have been resolved during the pre-Winter Olympic Highway 99 improvements, Northridge resident Shawn Pedersen said. At the time, the municipality, province and developers could have pooled together to create an underpass on the west side of the highway connecting to the road that runs beside the Shell gas station, he noted.
Fay said he's not opposed to development on the 8.32 acres, but doesn't see a traffic solution without an underpass. Kingswood puts the District of Squamish's council in a tricky position, Fay added, noting the project would provide a lot of tax money.
Kingswood's traffic plan is different from that of Red Point, said John Moonen, the project's representative. The earlier plan had no traffic travelling through Hospital Hill and streamed it through two roundabouts — one at the Squamish Adventure Centre and the other at Clarke Drive.
The District of Squamish's 2012 Upper Mamquam Blind Channel Land Use Study recommends that traffic from that area use local roads, so that's what the new project does, Moonen noted, adding there's not enough height to Highway 99 to construct an underpass.
Consulting firm Bunt and Associates estimated the development would generate a maximum of 184 vehicle trips in the peak morning hour and 244 vehicle trips in the peak afternoon timeframe. Two-thirds of the morning traffic is anticipated to head north out of Scott Crescent, eliminating the need to travel along Clarke or Behrner drives, Moonen said.
“In the morning it's one additional car a minute to either of these roads,” he said.
Highlands resident Auli Parviainen has followed the Kingswood proposal for a long time.
“It's significant because it's our gateway,” she said.
Proponents have gone through an extensive process, Parviainen noted. They've incorporated the direction District of Squamish staff presented in the municipality's Upper Mamquam land-use study, Parviainen added.
“I am really glad to see them proceeding. That says a lot,” she said.
The proposal is scheduled to hit council's table in November, less than a year before the next municipal election, Squamish resident and political observer Terrill Patterson said.
“They're going to force politicians to make a decision,” he said.