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Burnaby residents rejoice after vote for permanent street barriers in Capitol Hill

Neighbourhood residents are happy with a recent Burnaby council decision to keep local traffic calming measures.
Temporary traffic barriers along Penzance Drive in Burnaby at Gamma Avenue, a laneway, and Beta Avenue will be made permanent.

Many Capitol Hill residents are celebrating a win as Burnaby city council voted to make temporary barriers permanent at three streets in the neighbourhood to prevent rat running.

Permanent barriers that will still allow access to emergency vehicles will be set up along Penzance Drive at Beta Avenue, a laneway street and Gamma Avenue.

Rat running, in which drivers shortcut traffic by taking local roads instead of arterials, has been a long-standing issue in the area, according to residents and councillors.

Residents had expressed concerns about traffic safety in the neighbourhood as there are steep hills, twisting roads with blind corners, hidden driveways, high hedges and few sidewalks, as outlined in a letter to council supporting the permanent barriers.

Coun. Daniel Tetrault made the motion to make the barriers permanent at a council meeting Aug. 28.

He said the recommendation for a partial closure in a consultant's traffic calming study didn't adequately consider the social impacts of removing the barriers on the people living in the neighbourhood.

"Since the temporary barriers were put in place, residents have finally been able to enjoy calm and safe streets," Tetrault said, noting residents told him before the barriers were put in place, they would "lock themselves in their house, close their windows and not really go outside."

A new vibrancy was brought to the area with the temporary barriers, he said.

A cohort of local residents in council chambers cheered and clapped when the permanent barriers were approved.

The consultant's report states closing Beta Avenue and Gamma Avenue with an emergency vehicle access gate would cost an estimated $65,000 each; the cost for closing the laneway was not included in the report.

Council unanimously voted in support of making the barriers permanent.