Traffic is getting busier out there, in case you haven’t noticed.
The City of Surrey has been monitoring traffic volumes and speeds during the pandemic with help from its 350 “signalized” intersections equipped with technology to count vehicles, its six mobile traffic data collection sensors, 50 Bluetooth sensors, and other data collection equipment at the border crossings as well as Port Mann and Pattullo bridges.
In comparison with the city’s weekly average in 2019, the deepest reduction in traffic volume so far in 2020 was in late March, with up to 46 per cent less vehicles on the road.
Since then, traffic volume in the city has steadily increased to just nine to 13 per cent below the 2019 weekly average by early July, 2020.
This is according to a report to council by city staff.
Moreover, City Manager Vincent Lalonde told council that Surrey residents and business owners have contributed to the city’s financial recovery by paying their taxes earlier than necessary to avoid penalty. As of July 15, 2020, he said, 66 per cent of the annual tax levy had already been collected, though penalties won’t apply until Oct. 1.
The city’s COVID-19 Compliance and Enforcement Team – which was set up on March 26 in partnership with the bylaws department to do “proactive” checks to make sure residents and businesses understand their social distancing and self-isolating obligations – reported a “very high percentage of compliance” during the so-called Phase II of the pandemic.
But under Phase III, Lalonde noted, “a growing number of establishments are challenged to ensure that appropriate physical distancing is actually occurring within their business space.”
He said the compliance team is working closely with Fraser Health “to ensure that business owners are taking additional measures to limit the number of customers that enter their establishments at any given time and/or encouraging the wearing of face masks were appropriate.”
Councillor Steven Pettigrew maintains wearing a mask “should be a choice of people.
“I know that there are other provinces and cities that are mandating that people have to wear masks and I’m very, very cautious of that, I’m very concerned about that sort of legislation,” he said. “I’m very, very concerned about that sort of thing coming to us whether we’re going to be forcing people that they have to wear a mask.”
Pettigrew called for “better messaging” from the provincial government concerning masks.
“There’s too much fear, I think,” he said. “We need to be able to do something to be able to help people to understand what the limitations of masks are and to help them be more confident wearing them.”