Heidi Blatt walks a group of Langley Fine Arts students, Grades 2 to 5, across 96 Avenue between Crickmer Court and Edal Street on Wednesday afternoon. Blatt says it makes her uneasy having to dash across the busy road every morning and afternoon during the school week.

FLCA advocates for 96 Avenue crosswalk and raised sidewalks in Fort Langley

The Fort Langley Community Association says raised sidewalks should be installed along 96 Avenue, not an at-grade shared use path

The Fort Langley Community Association (FLCA) is urging the Township to install raised sidewalks along 96 Avenue from Glover Road to Wright Street in Fort Langley.

Three members of the association spoke during the Jan. 30 council meeting in response to the Township’s current 2017 budget and five-year plan deliberations.

Council received a memo from staff in October, 2015, giving an overview of what the new sidewalks would entail.

Option 1 includes an elevated cement sidewalk with a cement curb. The estimated cost is $950,000 for one side of 96 Avenue, or $1.2 million for both sides.

Option 2 includes a shared use path with an asphalt curb to separate pedestrians from vehicle traffic. The cost for one side of the street is $350,000 or $450,000 for both sides.

Andy Schildhorn, chairperson of the FLCA, said that a poll conducted by the association of 100 residents on 96 Avenue showed that 100 per cent, or 43 out of 43 of their respondents, want option 1, raised sidewalks.

He listed several concerns with the at-grade option, including: the safety for pedestrians with 96 Avenue being a designated truck route; the safety of putting cyclists, who often travel at speeds of 20 km/h, along a shared path with pedestrians; and the potential debris buildup that would occur as street sweeping equipment cannot be used with an asphalt barrier.

Coun. Blair Whitmarsh asked how raised sidewalks would help cyclists, who would then be forced to ride with the vehicles and around parked cars instead of on a path.

Schildhorn replied that having a designated cycling lane, separate from a pedestrian sidewalk, would be their preferred solution.

Further to that, the FLCA is also asking for a crosswalk to be installed across 96 Avenue at Edal Street and Crickmer Court.

Currently, there is a pedestrian bridge over the train tracks at Bedford Landing, with an asphalt path leading to Edal Street. On the other side of 96 Avenue, at Crickmer Court, is another path that leads to the Langley Fine Arts School.

The nearest crosswalk, however, is at Glover Road.

“This is an important route for children walking to the Langley Fine Arts School,” Schildhorn said.

“Children and parents that walk to the school now have to risk crossing 96 Avenue when there is a break in the traffic.”

Solon Bucholtz, vice chair of the FLCA, added that the association has received a letter of support from the Langley Fine Arts Parents Advisory Committee for the crosswalk.

Coun. Michelle Sparrow said she recognizes the safety hazard of children crossing the busy road, and that she put forward a motion for a crosswalk at Edal last term. However, it never came to fruition.

Coun. Charlie Fox asked Bucholtz if the residents are prepared to lose their street parking if the raised sidewalks go in.

Fox pointed out that a similar issue came up in Aldergrove, where residents were upset when a new bike lane on 32 Avenue took away parking spots.

Bucholtz replied that parking throughout Fort Langley is a separate issue, and should not be seen as more important than pedestrian safety.

Fox also noted that $1.4 million for a sidewalk is excessive in this year’s budget, and asked if the FLCA is willing to wait for more funding.

Bucholtz said that although they would like to see improvements right away, they would be willing to wait, or have only one side of the street done, if that means a raised sidewalk will be constructed.

A sidewalk constructed with the Fort Professional Building comes to a dead stop at 96 Avenue. Members of the Fort Langley Community Association would like to see that raised sidewalk continued down 96 Avenue to Wright Street. Miranda Gathercole photo.