Letters to Clearwater mayor and council are running about six-to-one against a proposed roundabout but town council does not appear to be ready to consider changing its support for the project.
The agenda package for the Sept. 11 town council meeting included five letters in support of the roundabout but also more than 30 against.
Several of those who sent the letters were at the council meeting. Acting mayor Jon Kreke told them that Council had based its support of the roundabout on the best available advice.
The Wells Gray Park junction was picked as the first priority because of the amount of pedestrian traffic there, Kreke said.
(Council members take on the role of acting mayor on a monthly rotation. Kreke was taking the place of Mayor John Harwood because Harwood happened to be away during the month of September).
A roundabout at the corner of Highway 5 and the road to Wells Gray Park would improve safety and enhance the junction as the gateway to Wells Gray Park, proponents say.
Members of council believed that nothing would happen with the roundabout proposal for five to eight years and were as surprised as anyone when the provincial government announced it was going ahead, councilors said.
According to a recent media release from the province, construction is to be completed by September of 2013.
Jackson Rempel, manager of Jim’s Food Market, which is located next to the proposed roundabout location, was concerned it would affect his business, both during construction and afterwards.
“My pay cheque depends on that intersection,” he said.
Brian Smith, owner of O’Bryan’s Café, another business located near the intersection, said truckers are dead set against the roundabout proposal.
Councilor Ken Kjenstad said ways could be found to ensure traffic kept moving during the construction phase.
However, Goldie Krawec, speaking from the audience, noted that several businesses in Vancouver went broke while SkyTrain was being expanded nearby.
Councilor Merlin Blackwell said that, once the roundabout proposal got in motion, the members of council could not talk about it publicly because purchase of land was involved.
How much support and opposition there is for the roundabout is uncertain. The Question of the Week in the Sept. 3 issue of the Times was, “Do you think a roundabout at the corner of Highway 5 and the road to Wells Gray Park would be a good idea?”
Five out of five of those who responded on the street were opposed. However, one of those asked was in favor but declined to say so in public. Another who was in favor was from out of town and was replaced by someone local.
The online poll for the question had 88 responses, one of the highest ever.
Of those, 40 were in favor of the roundabout (45 per cent) and 48 opposed (55 per cent).