Photo by LANA MICHELIN/Advocate staff Garfield Marks, a resident of Sunnybrook, used to oppose the Molly Banister Drive extension, but now believes it’s the best solution to too much traffic on 32nd Street.

Red Deer’s Molly Banister Drive extension now favoured by a former opponent of the project

Garfield Marks says it’s needed sooner, rather than later

A Sunnybrook resident doesn’t want Molly Banister Drive to be extended to 40th Avenue in 15 to 30 years time.

Garfield Marks believes the extension is needed right now.

The Red Deer resident said increased traffic and noise from 32nd Street means he and his neighbours on Stanley Crescent can hardly use their backyards anymore.

Vehicles form a near gridlock along the street at 5:30 p.m., Monday to Friday, with many motorists speeding to get home, added Marks.

Some of these cars and trucks are short-cutting through the Sunnybrook neighbourhood to get to 40th Avenue quicker by avoiding all the traffic and lights.

Collisions happen regularly, said Marks, who saw flashing emergency lights at the scene of the latest crash behind his home, on 32nd Street, at around noon Wednesday.

Meanwhile, students from Mountview Elementary School are crossing to get to a Sunnybrook convenience store, he said — and wildlife runs out into 32nd Street east of Kin Kanyon, with some animals hit by vehicles before making it across.

According to City of Red Deer engineers, Molly Banister Drive should be extended to connect with 40th Avenue by the time Red Deer’s population is between 115,000 and 180,000 people. This could be 15 to 30 years in the future.

But Melcor Developments Ltd. is now asking the city to decide the contentious Molly Banister question, once and for all.

Mecor wants the city to decide

Future road extension should be rejected: letter writer

Melcor has purchased land on the other side of Piper Creek and wants to create a new neighbourhood. The developer wants to know whether a four-lane roadway will someday intersect this land off 40th Avenue, between Sunnybrook and Southbrook.

Melcor officials argue Red Deerians need more park land, which could be created at the east side of Piper Creek, more than another roadway. The developer is asking the city to take the right-of-way being held for a future Molly Banister extension off its plans, and instead, consider other traffic alternatives.

One option would be to widen 32nd Street — but Marks hates to think what this could mean in terms of noise and traffic disruptions for his neighbourhood.

The other alternative would be adding additional lanes to 19th Avenue. This roadway is far south of Bower Place mall — a major destination point for residents of east Red Deer. And Marks believes the glut of drivers would still use 32nd Street to get to the mall, via a shortcut by Sunnybrook Farm.

Marks understands the environmental case against creating another Piper Creek crossing because, at one time, he was against the project himself.

He was among those voicing opposition to the Molly Banister extension at previous open houses held more than a decade ago.

Local conservationist Don Wales recently sent The Advocate a letter to the editor, urging that the idea of another Piper Creek crossing be scrapped for good.

“Bower Woods is a significant part of our beloved natural area inventory,” a wildlife refuge, filtration system for Piper Creek, and “a quiet place for walking or cycling and for the benefits we all receive from just being present in a natural area,” he said.

If this isn’t protected, it will be lost to future generations, Wales added.

But Marks said vagrants have been using park trails to access yards and steal things, and a lot of Red Deerians don’t feel as safe on them anymore.

He feels a greater priority is to ensure the city has safe and adequate traffic corridors.

“(As) one who once opposed the extension, sat on the environmental board, and helped update the city’s environmental master plan, I now wholeheartedly support keeping the land for a future Molly Banister extension,” he added.

The City of Red Deer has launched an online survey to collect public feedback on the question at www.reddeer.ca.



lmichelin@reddeeradvocate.com

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