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Could middle-of-the-road flex signs be coming to your neighbourhood?

Coun. Jay Fallis won support from his colleagues to have staff investigate new traffic calming measures in four city neighbourhoods

After neighbourhood petitions failed to get any traction at city hall, Coun. Jay Fallis decided to change gears and is taking the wheel in a bid to address residents’ concerns.

Earlier this year, three separate petitions were filed, calling for traffic calming measures on four different streets.

While city staff investigated the issues, they determined neither of the situations meet “the warrants” under the city’s traffic calming manual to be addressed.

That answer did not satisfy Fallis. He’s spent weeks talking to residents, compiling data, researching solutions and, earlier this week, tabled a request for staff to waive the city’s policies in these “unique” situations and prepare a report outlining some options to address them.

After a lively discussion, he was able to garner the support of a majority of his council colleagues to support his initiative.

As a result, staff will look into potential measures to improve safety on:

  • Emperor Drive;
  • Collegiate Drive between Coldwater Road and Park Street;
  • Skyline Drive between West Street and Alexander Road; and
  • Alexander Road.

“I’m very excited to get this on the table,” said Fallis.

He walked councillors through the issues on the four streets; each one is unique, the Ward 3 councillor noted.

Emperor Drive, for example, is almost one kilometre long and is home to about 120 residences.

The issue is, it’s essentially one long block with no breaks; people tend to speed as a result, Fallis noted.

During a summer speed survey, twice, a motorist hit 110 km/h on the street; the speed limit is 50 km/h. Other motorists were clocked doing 100 km/h and 87 km/h.

This is a street, Fallis noted, where kids can be found playing street hockey or basketball in their driveways and biking in the area.

One way to address the issue, suggested Fallis, would be to place centre-road/flex signs in the middle of the road. Perhaps a crosswalk at the entrance to the walkway which goes up to Monarch Drive should be considered, he added.

Fallis loves the idea of the flex sigs, currently being piloted in Severn Township. He said the signs cost about $300 and statistics show they reduce speeds by, on average, 5 km/h.

“When you see something in the middle of road … it changes the way you’re approaching the road. It’s kind of an instinctual thing (and) something really worth exploring,” said Fallis.

Fellow Ward 3 Coun. Mason Ainsworth agreed, stressing all that is being sought is a staff report that would explore options. 

When that report is completed, Ainsworth stressed, council could then make a decision on what, if any, measures might be pursued.

Coun. David Campbell said waiving a city policy made him “nervous.” 

But staff stressed the policy would only be waived in these four specific scenarios.

“People have a real problem here,” said Campbell.  “We need to address it. I realize we have guidelines ... we also can’t wait for something really bad to happen. 

“Our city is changing and sometimes we need to look at policies and they need to adapt with our changing city,” Campbell noted, adding he hopes “some change” will come from this.

But Coun. Ted Emond was concerned the decision would open the floodgates, prompting people from neighbourhoods all over the city to ask for the policy to be waived.

He said in similar scenarios, he refers people to the traffic calming manual and to the procedures in place.

“I don’t particularly want to see us go forward with this - not that I’m opposed to traffic calming and doing a better job in all of these instances,” said Emond. “But if we do this here, we will be inundated from a number of sources.”  

Fallis said he understood the concerns but noted the issues related to these four streets, specifically, need to be addressed.

“There is a feeling there’s something missing along these streets … that we can certainly do a lot more here,” said Fallis, who noted the people who live in these neighbourhoods “really want something to get done. That was reiterated to me time and time again.”

Staff will report back to council in April with potential options.


Dave Dawson

About the Author: Dave Dawson

Dave Dawson is community editor of OrilliaMatters.com
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