Mariner Way residents concerned about safety

By Lara Gerrits
The Tri-City News
Apr 27 2007

Screeching tires. Roaring engines. Crunching metal.


“All of that noise just resonates right through the building,” says a Mariner Way homeowner who’s fed up with dealing with the commotion from speeding traffic and commercial vehicle drivers illegally using engine brakes.

And she’s wondering why the RCMP and city bylaw department are largely ignoring the problems.

Larissa Stadnichuk moved into her home in the 300-block of Mariner Way last June and immediately noticed the onslaught of noise. In fact, she wished she had taken the time to stand outside of the property before buying it, never guessing the sounds of the suburbs would top that of her previous home on Robson Street in downtown Vancouver.

The noise level only increased when a neighbour chopped down some front-yard trees that had acted as a sound buffer, prompting Stadnichuk, acting on behalf of four other Mariner residents, to write letters to the Coquitlam RCMP asking for speed patrol and to city hall asking for bylaw enforcement on the use of engine brakes.

“Because people are going so fast, they’re having to ease off on their brakes and gear down, and, with the amount of big rigs, dump trucks, they’re all using their engine brakes — which is totally illegal in this area,” she said.

Stadnichuk estimates most drivers are going at least 15 to 20 km over the 50 km/h speed limit and said she worries her boyfriend’s children, who often play on her steep front yard, are in danger.

“It’s like... I bought a house on the highway,” she said, noting she saw four motorcycle accidents last summer alone, and often hears rear-end collisions.

Her letter writing produced some results in February, when a city bylaw officer set up for a week, recording the licence plates of trucks using engine brakes and mailing out tickets. The bylaw presence made a difference for a while, she said, but, soon, the noise started up again.

A response from the RCMP regarding speed issues, however, didn’t come close to satisfactory, she said.

In an email from the Coquitlam RCMP traffic services, provided to The Tri-City News by Stadnichuk, Sgt. Bob Reed wrote that the “majority of our usual speed enforcement techniques cannot be done” along the Mariner Way stretch.

Because there are no shoulders on the four-lane route, Speed Watch cannot set up operations to show motorists how fast they are going, he wrote. “In the same vein, setting up a speed enforcement operation with the use of laser or stationary radar instruments is impossible as well, since there is basically nowhere to safely set up the operation on the side of the roadway, as well, there is no safe location to flag the vehicles over to.”

That leaves police officers to catch speeders with “moving radar,” which operates from within the police vehicle, and only traffic-patrol cars have the radar system installed.

“You also have to realize that the vast majority of marked police vehicles you see on the roadway are our general duty police vehicles, which do not have this speed monitoring technology,” Reed continued.

Whenever possible, traffic members will frequent the area, he wrote. Later in the letter, however, he wrote that police officers pulling over cars on Mariner are in “extreme danger” and will only do so in areas where it’s safe. (Last March, one traffic member conducting a speed operation there was struck by a vehicle and has only recently returned to an office-duty position.)

Stadnichuk found the response shocking and said it was like “reading a letter from a 13-year-old child explaining why they stole a cookie... I think it’s a lame excuse.”

“What’s the point of paying for police officers if they’re not going to do their job?” she asked, adding many residents would volunteer their front lawns for Speed Watch operations and side streets can be used to set up radar.

Meanwhile, all Stadnichuk can do now is build a fence.

The Tri-City News was unable to get a comment from a representative of Coquitlam’s bylaw department.