Council committee voted against installing three sets of all-way stops along Nottawasaga Street and Westmount Drive Monday evening, following a staff report that recommended against installing the stops as traffic calming measures.
In late 2021, council called on staff to look into the feasibility of adding all-way stops to Nottawasaga Street intersections with Douglas Street and McKenzie Street, as well as Westmount Drive South and Rose Avenue.
None of the intersections warrant traffic calming measures according to current policy, a staff report states.
In order to warrant additional measures, the intersections along Nottawasaga Street must see 200 vehicles per hour in each of the day’s four busiest hours, and 75 vehicles/pedestrians per hour along its minor, intersecting roads. In addition, traffic must not exceed a 70/30 volume split for Nottawasaga and its intersecting roads.
Neither of the intersections along Nottawasaga Street met the criteria for additional measures, with a turning movement count study finding that the busiest hour of traffic yielded only 55 per cent of the required volume.
Similarly, the proposed measures for Westmount Drive and Rose Avenue failed to meet the criteria for traffic calming measures for T-shaped intersections.
Coun. Ralph Cipolla initially suggested that speed-displaying signs might be installed along Nottawasaga as an alternative traffic calming measure, before calling for a four-way stop to be installed at Nottawasaga and Douglas, regardless of the policy.
“We're only talking (roughly) $2,500 for the stop sign. It's not a lot of money, and this is what the taxpayers of that area would like,” Cipolla said. “I parked my car for about half an hour on Douglas Street, and the traffic and the speed coming across here is more like 55 to 60 km/hour to 60 to 65 km/h, and some of them are even 70 and 75 km/h.”
Coun. Tim Lauer similarly stated that traffic calming measures might be appropriate at Nottawasaga and Douglas, pointing out that Nottawasaga draws additional traffic from arterial roads due to its lack of stops and starts.
“I personally believe that stop signs do calm traffic. If you wind it up on Westmount, head down Nottawasaga, you are uninterrupted until you get to Patrick, and therefore you are travelling at the full limit, generally for the whole length of that section,” he said.
“I think the fact that Nottawasaga is not an arterial road, and that we are trying to encourage cars to use … arterial roads like Coldwater Road or Mississaga Street … then we need to discourage it, and I don't think there's anything wrong with using a stop sign to discourage that.”
Both Coun. Mason Ainsworth and Mayor Steve Clarke, however, said the city should instead have a broader discussion about its traffic calming policies, and that moving against it might be unwise.
“Whether or not we want to put a four-way stop here, I think, is one thing, but whether or not we want to be going against our policy that we have is a different conversation,” Ainsworth said. “What we should be doing is going back and changing our policy so it doesn't need to meet the criteria … (but) we really shouldn't be doing one offs for these things.”
The mayor agreed.
“If there needs to be a change, I would suggest that would be at the policy level,” Clarke said. “Not at the anecdotal level where we desire to put things, or think we're going to put one sign somewhere that doesn't fit the warrants. I don't know what would preclude us from dotting the city with those, so I think if there's a change that needs to take place I think it would be at the policy level.”
Ainsworth also questioned whether Cipolla had used a radar gun to clock the speed of the vehicles he had witnessed along Nottawasaga, which Cipolla had not.
“I think I'm old enough and have driven long enough to be able to tell how fast a person's going,” Cipolla said.
“I know when they train the OPP, one of their practices is they say, ‘Hey, how fast do you think these cars are going?’” Ainsworth responded. “People are shocked and amazed where they think that they're speeding and … people just don't have a grasp of how fast cars are actually going until they use a radar gun.”
Coun. Rob Kloostra added that any resident witnessing high speeds through their neighbourhood should contact the OPP.
“Call the OPP if you're concerned that people are speeding in a neighbourhood,” he said. “I mean, that's our first course of action is to call the police, and see if somebody (could be) posted on the corner and have a little bit of more information on that.”
Coun. Jay Fallis proposed an amendment to Cipolla’s motion that would see data gathered a year after installing a stop sign at Nottawasaga and Douglas, but his amendment was defeated.
“I think it'd be valuable comparing, a year later, a report back on what are the traffic numbers right now … and then what are the traffic numbers after we put in the sign, and then … we can look at it again and find that if it really had no impact, we can make a decision that's better informed,” he said.
“Once the stop sign’s up, it'll likely stay there for life,” cautioned city transportation technologist Lisa Dobson.
Dobson said the city’s traffic calming policy is set to be reviewed by council, ideally, before the end of the current term.
“There is no set council committee date for that report to council,” she said. “Ideally it would be this term of council. That is the ideal, that it would be good for October.”