By Nancy Kelly
Faced with opposition from a downtown business owner, members of Berwick council backed away from a proposal to improve safety at a busy intersection in town.
After a motion was put on the floor to remove four street parking spots on Commercial Street in front of the Driftwood Restaurant, owner Randy Sanford asked for the opportunity to address council on the matter.
“I wasn’t aware of this till today, and that is very concerning to me,” he said.
At council’s Feb. 26 meeting, citing multiple public complaints about visibility due to the restaurant’s parking layout, Coun. Anna Ashford-Morton made a motion for council to consider removing all four of the parallel street spots as a “pro-active move to improve safety,” for motorists and pedestrians.
Sanford blamed high speeds of drivers and people not coming to a full stop at the stop sign at the south-west corner of Cottage and Commercial Streets and not sight-lines for the complaints.
“Taking out those spots will only ruin four good parking spots, it won’t solve the other problems,” Sanford said, adding, “parking in a commercial area is too important to evaporate.”
Sanford instead advocated for a four-way stop at the intersection. CAO Don Reagan responded that he wasn’t sure if results of a traffic study would warrant such a change.
When Ashford-Morton asked Sanford if he was willing to work with the town to find a solution he replied, “yes, but I can’t afford to give up parking spots.”
Coun. Preston Illsley said council needed to take some action to address public complaints about the intersection, which he pointed out have been focused on sight-lines, not excessive speeding.
Despite urging by Ashford-Morton, the original motion to take out the four spaces was defeated. Instead, Coun. Matthew Redden’s amended motion to remove only one spot, located closest to the intersection, was passed. Ashford-Morton’s was the only dissenting vote.
Staff was also instructed to conduct a traffic study to look at the possibility of adding a four way stop at the intersection.