Council firm on transit terminal, commission safety study of area

June 5, 2020   ·   0 Comments

By Mike Baker

Orangeville Council didn’t take the bait last Monday (May 25) in what was a last-ditch attempt by one local business owner to prevent the relocation of the Town’s planned transit transfer terminal to Broadway. 

Terrance Carter, Managing Partner of Carters law firm, has been one of the biggest critics of Council’s decision to transform space between First St. and John St. along Broadway into a transfer hub for a new, four-route town-wide transit system. He believes the relocation presents several safety concerns and, for the third time, asked the Town’s elected officials to reconsider the move. 

While he has previously lobbied for the terminal to be moved to a different location, Mr. Carter is now calling on Council to complete a public safety report, focusing on pedestrians and drivers, before moving ahead with construction along Broadway. 

“I am making this request for three reasons – first, the 2017 report from Dillon Consulting (which Council used to base its decision on approving the Broadway location) failed to conduct safety analysis of the Broadway location,” Mr. Carter said. “Secondly, many members of the public, and a number of Council members, have recognized there are real and pressing safety issues that need to be considered.” 

In his final point, Mr. Carter made reference to an incident back in August 2012, when an Orangeville fire truck left the road, mounted the curb and crashed into the corner of the Broadway post office, during rush hour traffic.

“City News reported at the time that then fire chief Andy Macintosh (now Orangeville’s Deputy Mayor), said ‘the fortunate thing about this is that no pedestrians were hit, and nobody in the store was injured’,” Mr. Carter remarked. “Obviously, if there had been a transit terminal in place at the time, the outcome would have been very different, and possibly even deadly.

“Therefore, I am asking Council to take this opportunity to pause, and obtain information that is needed to ensure public safety is given the due consideration that is necessary before the transit transfer terminal is relocated to Broadway,” Mr. Carter concluded. 

There was some debate between certain members of Council, notably Coun. Joe Andrews and Mayor Sandy Brown, as well as Doug Jones, the Town’s General Manager of Infrastructure Services, to determine what impact sanctioning a study would have on the timelines currently in place to complete the project. Mr. Jones indicated preliminary work was already underway and that, due to the low cost and minimal construction required at the site, the terminal could be operational as soon as September. A safety study, Mr. Jones estimated, would take between three and six months to complete. 

“I still support the location, I firmly believe in the location, but I also firmly believe in the safety of our residents,” Coun. Andrews said. He would go on to make a motion that Council sanction a safety study of the site, but to also continue with the work as presently planned. The idea being, if the study presents any significant safety concerns, Council would then go back, reconsider its decision and potentially identify a new location for the terminal. 

“I don’t want to have this terminal delayed to the point it becomes problematic. We need to find that sweet spot,” Coun. Andrews noted, in explaining his motion. 

In what was a slightly alarming comment, Deputy Mayor Macintosh, who, alongside Coun. Todd Taylor, served as Council representatives on the Town’s transit committee, admitted public safety wasn’t properly considered during the process. 

“I do firmly believe this is the right location, however I would be receptive to having some kind of study done on this matter. Safety does play a big part. It’s something the committee did overlook, for sure. (A study) should be done,” Deputy Mayor Macintosh said.  

Mr. Carter was incredulous at the suggestion that Council advise staff to push forward with developing the site before seeing the results of any safety study. 

“Proceeding with construction doesn’t make sense (right now). Why don’t you, collectively, do the right thing, put construction on hold until you get a safety study done and then move forward,” Mr. Carter said. “There’s no point expending public funds with a relocation if it turns out a safety study is going to indicate there are problems.”

With Council at something of an impasse, Coun. Todd Taylor expressed his frustration at discussing a topic that has already been addressed on two occasions within Council chambers since the terminal was approved on April 22. 

“My wish and my position is we dealt with this already. Quite honestly, I’m disappointed we’re talking about this again two weeks (after we last discussed it),” Coun. Taylor said. “I’d like to move forward. I don’t see an issue with what it is. I’ve been involved in many community safety initiatives since I’ve been elected, I don’t see this as one we need to spend money on, or utilize Town staff’s time on. I would prefer we just went forward.”

While there were many references to concerns for public safety during the discussion, Mr. Jones indicated those same concerns would exist no matter what location is chosen to house the community’s transit transfer terminal. He noted his staff was in the process of developing a campaign that would educate the community about how to utilize the terminal safely and appropriately. 

“No buses will depart the transfer point until such time as all riders have disembarked the last arriving bus and had the opportunity to safely cross at the lights at John St. or First St. to board another bus,” Mr. Jones said. “In other words, we are going to do our best to communicate with people there is no need to run across the street, jaywalk and endanger themselves, because the bus isn’t going to leave until they’ve had the opportunity to board.”

In the end, Council voted 5 to 2 in favour (Coun. Taylor and Coun. Lisa Post opposed) of moving ahead with construction of the transfer terminal, while at the same time directing staff to hire a consultant to complete a safety study of the area.

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