Residents offer thoughts on Elizabeth Avenue development

Increased traffic to neighbourhood listed as major concern

Published on April 22, 2010

The residents of the Elizabeth Avenue area of St. John's say they're already loyal Pipers shoppers - but they'd be happier neighbours if traffic problems in the area were fixed.

Several people at Wednesday night's public meeting - to talk about Pipers' request to rezone the lot from commercial industrial to commercial neighbourhood zone - said they liked the idea of having a Pipers store in the area, but not the idea of increased traffic and the problems that may come with it.

The residents of the Elizabeth Avenue area of St. John's say they're already loyal Pipers shoppers - but they'd be happier neighbours if traffic problems in the area were fixed.

Several people at Wednesday night's public meeting - to talk about Pipers' request to rezone the lot from commercial industrial to commercial neighbourhood zone - said they liked the idea of having a Pipers store in the area, but not the idea of increased traffic and the problems that may come with it.

Residents' complaints at the public meeting about the development, at the corner of New Cove Road and Elizabeth Avenue at a former car dealership, weren't leveled at the developer. Rather the city's director of traffic services was the target of most of the residents' concerns.

Robin King was bombarded with questions about increased traffic in the area, not just as a result of the new development, but over the last number of years. In specific, several residents asked for a new left-turn signal at the New Cove Road and Elizabeth Avenue intersection.

The development proposal included a traffic study of the three closest intersections based on estimates of customers at the new store. Traffic officials said their models showed there would not be a significant increase in traffic, mostly because there would be two entrances and exits on two separate sides of the building. As well, the store's parking lot would be connected to the adjacent Canadian Tire parking lot, allowing for a third exit.

Residents raised issues about the difficulty getting around the area after a snowfall, when the four lanes of traffic are reduced to two, and the several alternate routes they've had to come up with to avoid the whole Elizabeth Avenue area to get home.

When King would attempt to explain the city does in-depth studies on traffic volumes to determine if additional signals are warranted, residents said he didn't live in the area and couldn't know how bad the intersection at New Cove Road is.

City officials promised to look at the traffic in the area, but couldn't guarantee any changes to the area.

"If you want people to shop at your store, you have to make it as safe and easy as possible," said area resident Anna Guest, who also raised questions about the building's facade, which looks to be blocked siding from artist drawings.

She and others wanted to see something more fitted to the area, like brick.

"And I am a Pipers shopper," she mentioned as she sat down.

After the meeting Pipers president Jamie Allister said it was positive and that the neighbours had good questions and ideas, some of which may be incorporated into the final design should the rezoning get approved by the city.

Pipers officials used the meeting to declare their intention to reduce the actual space of the building to 22,400 square feet from the current 35,400 and to accommodate 111 parking spaces. The store will create 30 new jobs, Pipers general manager Glen Skinner saidd and will allow the company to continue to offer quality local products and services at the best possible prices.

As well, the development will have two small boutique stores for rent on the property. It will be well lit 24 hours a day and will have around-the-clock surveillance cameras to enhance safety in the neighbourhood.

Allister said the store does regular cleanup of its lots, two to three times a day if necessary, and told residents t the city's requirements for fencing at the rear of the building will be met.

amorrissey@thetelegram.com