Rod Wolfe couldn’t believe it when he found out a bus pad was going to be moved right in front of his house – about four metres from his front door – on 232 Street in Maple Ridge.
He only found out about the new bus stop a couple of months ago when construction workers began working on the expansion of 232 Street and asked him to remove anything in front of city lines, including a fence and a couple of trees.
Now the homeowner is trying desperately to keep the bus stop where it currently is, about 10 metres south of his residence, just north of Abernethy Way, where it is not obstructing any homes.
Wolfe has contacted both the City of Maple Ridge and TransLink and said he has been given the runaround between the two. He said the city told him the stop was being moved because buses didn’t have enough time to merge out.
“Where it is now, and I’ve looked at a lot of bus stops, it’s ample enough space for a shuttle bus, not a 40-foot conventional, to turn and pull out of there,” said Wolfe.
Wolfe is worried that not only will his privacy be taken away, but street parking in front of his house has also been eliminated, which has caused his tenants to leave – a financial blow to the homeowner just before Christmas.
“This whole thing has been a really bad fiasco and it’s caused a lot of unnecessary stress for me at this end, stress for the people that were living upstairs in the home as well because they had to move, stress on the family,” he said.
Tammy Ellinson lived upstairs for more than a year, with her 21 and 18 -year-old daughters and 14-year-old son, and said that their bedroom windows and living room window faced 232 Street.
She said walking through the construction site was bad enough to access the front door, she can’t imagine walking through people waiting at a bus stop, especially her children, noting her son has severe social anxiety.
“Think about if you are going to put a bus stop there with random people – of all ages, at all hours of the night, smoking or not, leaving trash – who is going to pick that up?” she asked.
She moved her family out of the suite on Tuesday, Nov. 15.
“I moved because I was never given a guarantee from anyone that the bus stop was going to be moved somewhere other than the front of the property. I was never given a full answer of ‘no this will not affect coming and going’. I was never given a reassurance the same lifestyle I had will continue to happen,” she said.
“Why did I leave? My kids’ privacy, my kids’ health, and my kids’ mental health because of social anxiety. It’s privacy because it’s five feet from the bedroom window and my kids’ physical health because I can’t be guaranteed that smokers aren’t going to come near the house,” she added.
Ellinson said the notice left at the door about the city road construction made no mention of a bus pad or a bus stop.
Forrest Smith, city engineer, said that work on the Abernethy corridor had been anticipated for many years because of the growth in the northeast sector of the community and the traffic impacts for citizens who use the route for commuting.
He elaborated that part of the planning process for this project was to ensure that they “design transit, cycling, and pedestrian capacity as part of the road system design.” As a result, changes will be taking place at the intersection of Abernethy Way and 232 Street, as well as Dewdney Trunk Road and 232 Street.
“As part of the overall project scope, we are addressing the need for transit stops along the route to address the current project design and to extend Abernethy east of 232 Street as part of our long-range planning,” said Smith, in order to help people move through the community “as efficiently and safely as possible.”
“On-street parking, road access, and changes to pedestrian routes can change the streetscape that people have had for many years, and our goal is to work with citizens to try to balance the impacts of this growth and mitigate impacts on individual homeowners along a project route,” added Smith.
The work that is currently underway is the second half of the second phase of a four-phase project, which will also include the expansion to four lanes of the section between 224 Street and 230 Street, and is part of the work plan for 2023. This project has been identified as a top priority in the City’s Strategic Transportation Plan and is consistent with the City’s Official Community Plan, said Smith.
He said the public has been notified about the project through a project information meeting, website and social media, and direct mail-outs to homes impacted by construction and those whose access will change as a result of the new road configuration.
“In addition, our staff have been working on the ground, dealing directly with homeowners to address specific impacts,” Smith said.
He noted that city staff are working with homeowners who have fences and landscaping on the city’s right-of-way property to relocate the items to the inside of their property. This work is being done on a case-by-case basis.
“We appreciate the patience and cooperation of homeowners as we seek to address their specific impacts as part of the broader project to improve the transportation network capacity and safety for all users,” he said.
Wolfe said his fence was left in a pile on his front lawn.
In response to The News, TransLink said bus stop relocations are determined by the city but noted that, on average, buses run every half hour along that route during the week, and during the month of November an average of eight total customers boarded at that particular bus stop every day.
Both Ellinson and Wolfe say construction workers have been quite rude to them as well. With one telling Ellinson she got her wish – moving out, and a construction site supervisor commenting that if Wolfe didn’t like it then he could sell his house.
Wolfe is also concerned not only for his family’s safety and privacy, but that there will be people loitering, littering, and damage to his property.
“Do I want my kids to be hit by a shuttle bus while entering and exiting their home? Do I want strangers looking and lurking into the windows of my teenage daughters? Do we now live with our blinds closed at all times? I find this incredibly irresponsible and absurd that whoever went ahead with this plan or project didn’t even think of these things or even consult me,” Wolfe said in a letter addressed to the City of Maple Ridge CAO Scott Hartman.
A realtor also told him the stop will bring his property value down.
“Who compensates for this?” he asked.
“I simply cannot accept this major impact without the city even considering consultation of any kind with me.”
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