Lisa Ward (left) and her colleague Amber Winspear have called on the city to improve safety conditions at the intersection of Evergreen Road and Birch Street.

Lisa Ward (left) and her colleague Amber Winspear have called on the city to improve safety conditions at the intersection of Evergreen Road and Birch Street.

New hospital opening creates traffic hazard for staff at Campbell River medical clinic

Staff at Alder Medical Centre have expressed concern over the safety of pedestrians on nearby streets, claiming that near collisions with traffic are a frequent occurrence for employees and patients travelling between the clinic and the nearby North Island Hospital.

Lisa Ward, office assistant at Alder, told the Mirror that close calls with vehicles and other safety issues have been exacerbated by the opening of the new hospital, which began operating on Sept. 10.

She said that the increased roadside parking along Evergreen Road has greatly reduced visibility for pedestrians near the Birch Street intersection, which includes a number of physicians who must use the intersection daily.

Charlotte Hayman, who also works at Alder as an office assistant, said that the safety risks posed by the increased traffic became evident within a week of the North Island Hospital opening, and that close calls have since become a weekly occurrence for her.

Ward and Hayman contacted a City of Campbell River engineer four weeks ago and was told that the issue would be alleviated once the parking lot planned for the north side of the hospital is complete. Aside from that initial conversation, Ward said she is yet to receive a response from the city.

“I know that there are a lot of traffic issues in the city,” she said. “But I don’t want this to go the same way as the (Ironwood Place) senior facility. I don’t want to have to wait 10 years before anything is done. Something has to change or someone will get hurt or worse. It’s dangerous and scary.”

Hayman expressed a similar concern.

“My concern is that when it gets slippery, drivers won’t be able to stop in time. That hill is horrible during the winter.”

Drew Hadfield, transportation manager for the city, told the Mirror that a full review of the intersection is currently being conducted. While he did not provide a timeline, he said the city is currently considering implementing additional no parking zones, four-way stops and reducing the speed limit along Evergreen.

In fact, at this week’s meeting of city council, Mayor Andy Adams announced he would be putting forth a motion at the next meeting, scheduled for Dec. 11 at 6:30 p.m., that would propose council instruct staff to install a four-way stop at that intersection “immediately.”

Hadfield says that the city has also already taken measures to alleviate similar problems along Birch Street.

“No parking has been re-established on the east side of Birch Street to widen out the road and still provide on street parking along the west side of the roadway,” Hadfield says. “In addition to this, we have eliminated on street parking to the south of the emergency entrance and a couple parking stalls to the north of this entrance to improve the sightline for vehicles leaving the facility. This also provide improved visibility for pedestrians using the sidewalk in this area.”

Hadfield said he expects traffic patterns to change following the removal of the former hospital building and the addition of a new parking area, which would reinstate Second Avenue as the primary point of access for the hospital.

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