Castlegar Mayor Kirk Duff introduced a budget amendment at the last hour to revisit council’s decision to close 16th Avenue in Grandview Heights as the first, second and third readings of the 2022 city budget bylaw were about to be voted on at the Jan. 25 council meeting.
After much consideration during earlier budget meetings, council decided to reinstall a gate at 16th Avenue and close a 370-metre gravel section of road rather than spend money to improve it.
The decision was not a popular one with residents of the Grandview neighbourhood.
The reasons for the earlier decision were many, but included information from a 2007 traffic study that concluded the 37th Street intersection vehicles would use to access Columbia Avenue if taking the 16th Avenue route could not handle the additional traffic.
The mayor’s motion called for a new traffic impact study and associated cost estimates related to the connection at the cost of $20,000. The cost of the traffic study would come from the contribution to development line item in the budget — but would completely deplete it for the year.
The mayor said his intent was to make sure council had current information and to either reconfirm or invalidate their previous decision.
Councillor Sue Heaton-Sherstibitoff said she felt blindsided by the last-minute motion. Councillors Dan Rye, Bryan Bogle and Cherryl MacLeod also expressed surprise.
“I thought we had finished with this,” said MacLeod.
“I have had just as many people say, ‘Please don’t spend that kind of money on a subdivision for people that knew that was what the road was like when they moved up there.’”
MacLeod also said she was concerned that if they went ahead with the traffic study that Grandview residents would also expect changes to happen to 16th Avenue soon and there is no money in the budget for them in 2022.
“That would have been a huge tax increase,” she said.
Councilor Bergen Price, who championed increasing services on the road during the initial discussions, was in favour of the motion.
The motion failed when all of the councillors present except for Bergen Price voted against it.
Several councillors mentioned that the future of 16th Avenue will continue to be looked at in future strategic planning and budgeting meetings. But for 2022, the decision to close the road stands.