by LAURA KEIL
Residents of Juniper and Larch streets in Valemount are asking the Village to pave and better maintain these streets which are creating a nuisance due to dust and access problems.
Larch Street is a short no-through street on the East side of town that borders six properties and provides an access to the water treatment plant. Juniper Street is mostly paved, except for the very end closest to Swift Creek.
In a petition to Council, residents say a growing number of vehicles are using the streets to access mountain bike trails.
“Due to our roads not being paved, residents in this area are subjected to extreme dust in dry seasons due to wind and traffic,” the petition reads.
The spraying done a couple times a year by the Village to help suppress dust is “a wasted effort” the letter reads, as the treatment lasts only a couple days.
Despite occasional Village ploughing, residents say Larch Street is often nearly impassible in winter which presents access issues for three properties including a secondary dwelling located on the back quarter of 1292 Juniper Street. This property is only accessible to emergency vehicles via Larch St.
It notes this secondary dwelling is home to an elderly resident who is left at risk should a time-sensitive emergency occur when the road is in poor or impassible conditions.
At the Aug. 8th Council meeting Counc. Peter Reimer referenced the item in the Reading File and said he wanted to make a motion to add those streets to next year’s budget for paving.
“I believe this perhaps has been an oversight over the years and perhaps should have been done a long time ago. Just because there’s only a few residents there doesn’t mean they’re any less valued,” he said.
He said the Village should prioritize paving these streets “So all streets get equal treatment and respect.”
This year, several portions of local streets were paved including the first part of Hillside Drive which had also become a nuisance to residents because of dust due to bike park traffic.
Council passed Reimer’s motion to add the paving of Larch and Juniper to next year’s budget. There was no mention of the cost to the taxpayer.
The petition also requests that the Village connect with emergency responders to ensure they are aware of the location of Larch Street.
“Residents along this street who have called the RCMP on occasion have found the RCMP cannot locate Larch Street in their mapping system.”
In a letter to residents, Village CAO Adam Davey says the Village will place a “no-thru road” sign at the bottom of Larch Street to discourage motorists from unnecessary access. Further, the Village will discuss with VARDA on other signage and solutions to encourage mountain bikers to use Hillside Drive.
However he noted the Village paving, snow maintenance, and vegetation management schedules are prioritized “based on public access, exposure and user volume” which follows municipal best practices. He notes, for instance, that 5th Ave, the frontage road and the road to the ambulance station are always cleared of snow first as per the Village’s Snow Removal Policy.
With regards to future road paving, he says the Village of Valemount has applied for a grant to create a 20-year asset management plan (which includes a paving schedule). He says they’ll hear back about the grant in the coming months.
He says if the Village is not awarded the grant, the Village will make road maintenance and weeding decisions based on cost-benefit analysis, and prioritize based on public access and exposure.
He says the Village will follow up with emergency responders to ensure they know the location of Larch Street.