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Council pauses work on downtown transit hub, ponders new proposal

October 22, 2020   ·   0 Comments

By Mike Baker

Orangeville Council is once again rethinking its decision to construct a transit transfer terminal on Broadway after Mayor Sandy Brown revealed, on Monday (Oct. 19), new information regarding a potential site at the County-owned Edelbrock Centre along Centre St. 

The issue of the location of the terminal has been debated at length for over six years now. A report prepared by Dillon Consulting in 2017 recommended Broadway be considered to house the town’s transit hub. After the Orangeville Downtown Business Improvement Area (OBIA), with the support of businesses along Broadway, lobbied against the move, it was suggested the station could be situated on Centre Street, right in front of the Edelbrock Centre.

Much work was carried out on that particular proposal, which went as far as Town staff developing a site plan that would have seen a lay-by lane introduced at the site. Eventually, the site on Centre Street was scrapped due to its close proximity to the community garden, where volunteers grow fruits and vegetables for themselves, local residents in need and the Orangeville Food Bank. 

With other potential locations, such as the Westdale Mall, falling by the wayside, Orangeville Council voted in favour of adopting a downtown location back in April. 

Since then, the Orangeville Business Improvement Area (BIA), businesses such as Carters Law Firm, Natural Choice, Orangeville Memorials and Traffic Hawk Legal Services, located on the stretch of Broadway between First. St. and John St. where the terminal will be placed, have spoken openly regarding their opposition to the decision. 

Pedestrian safety has been front and centre of the those concerns, with Terrence Carter, Managing Partner of Carters Law Firm, surmising that it would be “just a matter of time” before a local resident is struck at the site. He believes the added presence of four buses in an already congested area of town would spell trouble, particularly with people in a hurry to transfer from one bus to another, or make it onto their bus after a long day at work. 

Obtaining statistics from the Orangeville Police Service, Greg Burd, President of Traffic Hawk Legal Services, said there had been 175 reported motor vehicle accidents along that stretch of Broadway since 2010, amounting to an average of 1.4 accidents per month. 

With that in mind, Orangeville Council commissioned a safety study of Broadway between John St. and First St. earlier this summer. The results of that study will be delivered to Council on Nov. 23. 

That is the date that Orangeville Council has committed to making a final decision once and for all. It’s members will do so, potentially, with a brand new proposal on the table, albeit in a familiar location. 

Mayor Sandy Brown has unearthed information regarding a failed attempt, from back in early 2018, to develop an entirely new roadway between Centre St. and Dawson Road, which would house a transit transfer station, bus shelter and washroom facilities. 

“That proposal got as far as an engineering team designing it and costing it. It was very seriously considered by the previous transit task force,” Mayor Brown informed Council. “Ultimately, it was shot down at Dufferin County in a 16 to 15 vote. Unfortunately, the members of Orangeville Council at the time (Jeremy Williams and Warren Maycock) voted in opposition to one another, otherwise this would likely have been finished and we would probably have a finished transit hub at Edelbrock right now.”

Should he bring this proposal back to the table at Dufferin County Council, Mayor Brown believes he has the necessary support to see the proposal approved.

“We have a new Dufferin County Council. We have support from other members of Council… A larger, more robust location (for the terminal) seems to make sense,” Mayor Brown stated. 

The downside to such a project may require a downscaling, or even complete relocation of the Orangeville community garden and orchard. Mr. Brown noted that, with federal and provincial money the Town has received to carry out its transit project, it wouldn’t be difficult to find money to fund such a move. 

The private road and terminal hub at the Edelbrock Centre would allow for the accommodation of the Town’ expanded four-route transit system, and would also accommodate other services such as Metrolinx, Grey County Transit and a proposed Grand Valley/Shelburne bus route, and allow for potential further growth of Orangeville Transit in the future. 

While some members, most notably Coun. Todd Taylor and Coun. Grant Peters have made it clear that it would take something drastic for them to change their minds about the downtown location, others have indicated they are more open to reconsidering their original decision. In fact, Deputy Mayor Andy Macintosh went on record to say that he would have been prepared to change his vote on Monday, from a yes to a no for the Broadway location, following further examining of stats and information, and further consultation with business owners in the area.

“A number of items have come up since (we made our decision). COVID-19 has affected things, safety issues have been raised and some new information has come to light about locations we can actually use,” Deputy Mayor Macintosh said. “I think the committee honestly, and I sat on the committee so I take full blame for this, we could have done a better job. We absolutely could have. At this time, I would be prepared to change my vote.”

Council will hear a report from Town staff regarding the feasibility of moving ahead with the potentially renewed option of developing a new roadway beside the Edelbrock Centre to house the transit terminal on Nov. 23. Results of the safety study conducted along Broadway between First St. and John St. will also be made public at that meeting.



         

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