Policy changes to reduce traffic congestion deferred

North Vancouver District Council will continue to lobby for more effective crash clearing

Annalisse Crosswell // Contributor

Students and faculty members at Capilano University can almost certainly expect that at many points during the semester, there will be an accident that hinders their commute. Many students travel daily over the Ironworkers Memorial Bridge at Second Narrows, which is known to be prone to standstill traffic when an accident of any size occurs.

Recently there has been much conversation around the District of North Vancouver Council’s efforts to lobby for a change in crash clearing policy, which has also garnered large support from the community.

Support for a change in policy is backed up within CapU’s campus community. On some days, the traffic can mean the difference between making it to an hour and a half long class and missing it entirely.

“My three-hour commute is supposed to take 45 minutes and constantly makes me late for class,” said Emilyanne Peters, a third-year Arts and Sciences student. Some days, gridlock is so bad it becomes a question of whether it is even worth trying to make it to class.

Crash clearing policy was brought up recently at a Union of British Columbia Municipalities (UBCM) meeting held from Sept. 25 to 29. The UBCM provides a mouthpiece for local government, and policy-making mainly occurs at their annual September convention. Unfortunately for commuters, the motion was deferred.

Currently, any road accident that incurs upwards of $1,000 in damages requires police to fill out a specific form in order for insurance claims to be approved. Given that police cannot always make their way to a crash scene immediately – especially in the case of minor accidents – it can result in long waits. Even if a person involved in a crash does not wish to hold up traffic with their presence, they may be personally liable if they choose to move their car.

According to District of North Vancouver Mayor Richard Walton, this dollar amount is part of the legislation around crash clearing, which is part of the issue they wish to change. The intention with changing this particular piece of legislation is to change that dollar amount from $1,000 to $10,000. In doing so, this legislation would better reflect the current state of the economy and inflation that has occurred in the years since it was enacted. However, changing even one word in a piece of legislation is a time consuming process, which Walton said becomes “more trouble than it’s worth.”

He explained that representatives not otherwise engaged in their political duties from across the province usually attend the UBCM meetings. Of those, about half a dozen who attended this year were from the Lower Mainland. The way in which the change was proposed caused some to question how it would affect their communities, specifically whether smaller crashes would become the responsibility of volunteer fire departments in rural areas. Walton explained that this legislation was deferred partly because the proposal involved changes too specific to the motor vehicle act and that it is “really a Lower Mainland issue.”

Despite this response at the UBCM meeting, Walton does not see it as anything more than a “minor setback.”

Though there are no other motions currently being put forward of the type, the District of North Vancouver Council continues to write and talk to representatives in Victoria and lobby for change. The Council sees this as an environmental issue, considering that cars stuck in traffic for hours continue to emit carbon monoxide. They also deem it an economic problem, and not simply a minor hindrance. People are unable to reach their jobs and, in the cases of CapU students, many are unable to reach their classes in time, or at all.

Walton is confident that this is not a major hindrance for North Vancouver and those who commute through the area. In taking this motion to the UBCM meeting he thought that the policy change was going to be positive for the province at large. Reflecting on it now, the Mayor feels that the idea was presented in a way that led to misunderstanding from those not directly affected by it. He is hopeful that with further lobbying the policy will be changed in the future, for the benefit of all those that commute across North Vancouver and over the Ironworkers Memorial Bridge.

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