By Ken Wuschke. In July the Province of BC gave our community just over $1.5 million. The money came from the Traffic Fine Revenue Sharing Program and is revenue raised from people who broke a traffic law.
Most traffic laws are about safety. Stopping at stop signs. Yielding to pedestrians. And so on.
The nice thing about the $1.5 million, there is no catch as to how the City of Abbotsford is to spend money. We can put to it towards anything.
Well let’s put the money towards improving road safety throughout Abbotsford.
Traffic safety has been a part of my life since the 1980s. I have been advocating for improvements wherever I have lived – Burnaby, Vancouver, New Zealand, and now here in Abbotsford.
I am a member of the Traffic Safety Advisory Committee at City Hall. Neighbourhood delegation after neighbourhood delegation comes to the monthly TSAC meeting asking for the city council to help deal with their traffic issues in front of their homes.
This is how I started going to the TSAC meetings when Lynne Harris was chairing back in 2011. The staff put forward a plan to install a traffic signal in my neighbourhood and I thought I would attend to find out about the process.
The result is that the Blueridge and Clearbrook traffic signal has been tabled for four years that I know of. And according to Clr. Moe Gill, this light has been tabled for at least eight years.
For eight years the TSAC committee has postponed recommending the installation of a traffic signal. Why?
It comes down to money and priorities.
In recent years as City Council has dealt with the Abbotsford Heat, the Stave Lake project, and the homeless issue everyday things like traffic safety have not been a priority. At TSAC I have put forward two motions asking city council for an annual budget for road improvements of $150,000.
In other words, 0.06% of the City of Abbotsford’s annual budget of $250,000,000. The chair didn’t even allow a seconder on the motions. So the motions to get funding for traffic improvements were stopped before discussion was allowed.
So let’s go back to the $1.5 million the City of Abbotsford received from traffic fines. My understanding is that this sum goes to the Abbotsford Police Department to continue operating traffic patrols. But patrolling and issuing tickets does not solve our traffic problems alone.
Most jurisdictions look at the triple E approach to traffic safety:
And the Institute of Transportation Engineers are now into five E’s.
The City of Abbotsford’s approach appears to be spend little money on engineering to make the streets safer for all. Toss a little towards education by having the digital speed radar move around town. And focus the majority of funds on enforcement.
I appreciate all the work that the members of the APD put in toward traffic enforcement, but we do need a more balanced approach. And we need the discussion to do this.
Having been on different transportation and traffic safety committees in other communities I can compare the City of Abbotsford’s approach. If TSAC was a student I would grade it a C minus and my comments would be:
“Once in a while the Traffic Safety Advisory Committee shows initiative, but not with any consistency. Instead of voting the committee directs topics to staff without a timeline as to when to report back to the Traffic Safety Advisory Committee. Instead of working for the citizens of Abbotsford, this committee is a paper shuffling group.”
I want TSAC to be there for everyone in Abbotsford, but with the constant deferring to staff without taking real action, should the committee even exist? If committees do not come up with solutions to our community’s problems how does the City of Abbotsford move forward?
We have the problems. We have the funding. Let’s put the money to solving the problems. We need solutions not report after report collecting dust on someone’s bookshelf.