The accident in Garibaldi Estates that claimed the life of a two-year-old girl in February was a tragic reminder of how unsafe the intersection in and around Garibaldi Way and Tantalus Road is for pedestrians, bikers and even drivers.
As someone who has lived in the neighbourhood since 2016, I am well aware of how bad traffic can be in this area. And yet, I couldn’t have imagined we would be mourning a young child for an accident that happened in front of the grocery store.
There has to be a solution to calm traffic in this area, improve traffic flow, and enhance pedestrian safety in the parking lots and for those who are walking and biking to the store.
I much prefer to walk or bike from my house to the store rather than driving, but even that is not always a pleasant experience, especially at night.
There is no sidewalk or safe pedestrian route from the lit cross walk on Garibaldi Way all the way into the grocery store (the sidewalk does not continue from the road to the store, you have to go through the parking lot, against traffic, or cut through the Chevron gas station).
Yes, there are speed bumps but people still drive too fast through the lot.
Over the past few years, the traffic in this neighborhood and around the grocery store has gotten worse – especially traffic in and out of the parking lots to Garibaldi Way and Highway 99.
Much of this area is poorly lit and pedestrians often don’t wear reflective markers or carry lights at night.
My main concerns are with congestion on Garibaldi Way near the highway intersection, traffic in and outside the grocery store, and the general cross traffic in the area from the gas stations and the small business plaza behind the store.
So, what safety improvements can be implemented to ensure we don’t have a repeat of the accident? Here are some suggestions I have.
We can start off by minimizing the entrances to and from the gas stations on Garibaldi Way, and minimize traffic between the Chevron station and the Independent Grocer lot.
We can add a direct entrance to the parking lot from Highway 99, very much like the one into the London Drugs lot.
Another way to improve traffic flow and safety within the parking lot is to cut down the number of stalls to allow for more room, more lights, and more walkways.
Perhaps there could be a clear crosswalk in front of the store leading to protected sidewalks in between rows of cars.
Of course, there needs to be better lighting within the lot and on Garibaldi Way.
I imagine the district has received similar concerns and requests from other community members following the tragic accident.
I know the police investigation will shed some light on why this accident happened and I hope this may include some recommendations on how to prevent similar accidents from happening.
I believe this needs to be a priority for Squamish, and we need to act now on traffic safety in the area before another tragedy claims the life of another loved one in the community.
Susie Dain-Owens has lived in Garibaldi Estates since 2016.