Event Report – Regal and Springmount Community Discussion Sept. 11, 2018

Hello neighbours! Hope you all had a great weekend.

We had a very lively meeting last week about the Regal/Springmount intersection. More than sixty people showed up, and we spent 90 minutes talking about design options as well as discussing our decision-making process moving forward.Many residents feel there has not been enough communication and outreach about the process. To be clear, every decision has been made in public, at open meetings that were widely promoted to hundreds of people via e-mail and posters. That said, many residents are not on our e-mail list and some don’t have access to computers at all. In response, we’re exploring the option of doing occasional paid postal deliveries for community newsletters, as well as compiling a list of residents who don’t have e-mail access and require paper notices for all updates.

In regards to road design, we heard a lot of constructive input at the meeting including questions about drainage, sight lines, maintenance, the ‘open’ aesthetic of the original design, winter safety, snow removal, garbage pick-up, parking and large trucks. We didn’t have any formal votes at the meeting, but there was a straw poll that revealed a near-consensus that the current design leaves the road-width far too narrow which unnecessarily squeezes cars, trucks and cyclists. (The width was reduced from 9 metres to 7). There was also a recurring theme about protecting the unique openness of the intersection, and questioning the need to add new trees in the middle of an open space already surrounded by mature trees. Many expressed support for improving the pedestrian connections, including a proposal to fix the one-block gap on the Regal Road sidewalk (between Springmount and Glenholme, on the south side). There was considerable debate about how dangerous the intersection is for pedestrians, with some pointing out that there are no recorded instances of collisions whatsoever, and others feeling that the south corner has never felt safe to access as a pedestrian.  In regards to any new landscaping, questions were raised about maintenance. This is a valid concern, especially for those who live at the corner. While the neighbourhood has a great track record of maintaining public green spaces (including two dozen planters, and large gardens), there are also examples of bump-outs that have become overgrown with weeds. Any new plan would require a maintenance plan and/or be designed in a way to minimise maintenance needs.

Here are a few images to illustrate some of the options moving forward, based on the feedback we’ve received so far.

This is the concept that was proposed a year ago. The advantages include good pedestrian connectivity, storm water absorption and creating an intuitive straight connection along Regal with a turn onto Springmount.
Supported by a large number of those at the meeting, the main argument in favour of the original design is that the intersection has functioned well for a century, so why change it? With no recorded collisions, many felt that there simply isn’t a need to redesign the corner at all. In addition, many feel that the wide open space is unique and an asset to the neighbourhood.
This is a compromise design that creates sidewalk connectivity, while maintaining all road widths at 9 metres (the same width as every street in the neighbourhood, including those with parking). The eastern bump-out has been removed entirely, as well as all trees (to maintain an open aesthetic).
This is the same as above but with stonework instead of greenery. Planters could always be added, but this way there is no risk of a weed-infested mess.
This has been proposed on many occasions. One advantage is that all existing frontages on Springmount and Regal could be maintained. However, it could create a hazard in the winter for cars coming down the hill.
These are not formal designs, just a quick Photoshop effort to help us all visualise some of the ideas that have been proposed. There will be another meeting sometime this fall, hosted by the city’s Transportation Department and Public Consultation Unit. We hope you’ll be able to join us!

In the meantime, I’ve sent a personal letter to city staff asking them to provide us with new options that don’t have a squeezed or ‘pinched’ lane width, to remove new trees from all designs, and to consider ripping out the entire pilot project before the winter.

We’d really like to thank all the people who attended last week’s meeting. It was tense at times, but I’m glad we hosted it and I’m glad that so many people took the time to show up and speak out.

Lastly, I do want to share my personal opinion that if/when this issue does come to a vote in our community, I think that those who live at the intersection deserve to have a louder voice. I’m not sure how we do that practically, perhaps those residents get two votes each, or three. Because while we all use the intersection frequently as a gateway to Regal Heights, only a small handful of people see it out their front window daily. And those are the same people who will be most affected by a new design in terms of garbage collection, sidewalk shoveling, deliveries, parking and potential impact on property values (either positive or negative).

Thanks for your attention, your time, your feedback and your passion for the neighbourhood.

~ dave