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Council votes to keep barricades at College Avenue




By Sam Odrowski

Orangeville residents living west of Hansen Boulevard will remain disconnected to College Avenue, and continue to see longer response times from emergency services.

Council voted against Town staff's recommendation to follow the advice of a traffic study, recently conducted by engineers, regarding the impact of opening College Avenue near Hansen Boulevard, during a May 16 Council meeting.

They found that doing this would provide better access to Town for residents in Veterans Way or the Parkinson residential area and the Blind Line/College Avenue intersection would continue to operate at a good level of service.

Police, fire service, and paramedics were consulted on the opening of College Avenue and supported removing the barricades.

However, there was significant outreach and pushback by residents on College Avenue with respect to removing the barriers due to speeding concerns, pedestrian safety, and the safety of school children.

Out of 14 letters from community members on Council's May 16 agenda, regarding the removal of concrete barricades at College Avenue at Hansen Boulevard, four were in support while 10 were against.

Concerned resident, Grant Armstong, appeared at the May 16 Council meeting and voiced his opposition to the barricades being taken down.

“If anybody lives in that area… the heavy school area, there's already a significant number of children, so adding a significant flow of vehicles through that area poses a significant safety risk,” Mr. Armstrong reasoned.

He also recommended creating a no parking zone along College Avenue if the road were opened at Hansen Boulevard, since it becomes a one-way during school pick up times, with vehicles parked on both sides of the street.

In response, Mayor Sandy Brown noted that Council also has a responsibility to the residents living west of Hansen Boulevard and needs to take their concerns into account.

“I've had personal visits from people who have elderly family in that area, concern of heart condition there. If the road was open, it'd be 60 seconds to the ambulance station. Otherwise, it'd be six or seven minute drive around,” Mayor Brown explained.

Debate among councillors

Mayor Brown, who's in favour of opening College Avenue at Hansen Boulevard with added safety features, noted that the traffic study showed peak traffic per hour will increase to 132 vehicles by 2025, when travelling eastbound on College at Blind Line.

This means there's roughly two vehicles per minute at the peak, which should be accommodated according to Mayor Brown.

“What this report is telling us is that the road is designed for this type of volume, that it isn't significant, and that there's no problem actually opening this up. That's what the report says and it's backed up by engineers who study this for a living,” he noted.

Mayor Brown added that he doesn't think the safety concerns from the residents of College Avenue are warranted.

“I lived there for 15 years, I know exactly what it is,” he remarked. “There hasn't been any increase in the number of buildings or the number of residents in that timeframe.”

Mayor Brown also commented that people who speed on College Avenue are those who live there, since the street is blocked at one end.

“Maybe some sort of campaign about driving safely in your neighborhood is what we need to add into this mix,” he said.

Orangeville's general manager of infrastructure services, Gary Kocialek noted the traffic study's results and College Avenue's ability to handle extra activity along the road, even if further development occurs in the area. Cachet Developments plans to build 383 apartments across four buildings on the west side of Hansen Boulevard.

“College Avenue has lots of capacity for traffic. You look at the numbers – worst case scenario is the [Cahcet] development occurs, Hansen [Boulevard] doesn't open and the road is still running at 50 per cent capacity,” said Kocialek.

He added that serious safety measures would have to run in conjunction with College Avenue's opening, such as traffic calming signs and LED speed signs.

With respect to safety issues, he noted that they are fundamentally different for the Veterans Way or Parkinson area residents and those at College Avenue.

“The biggest one [concern] I heard from Council at previous meeting was about the one access in and out to this [Parkinson area] development, travel times for emergency services, that sort of thing,” said Kocialek. "I did correspond with fire, police and ambulance. All three of them indicated a preference to having it open, especially ambulance. It's a direct connection almost to the ambulance station.”

A motion was brought forward by Mayor Brown to open College Avenue for a trial period of six months, turning it into a Community Safety Zone with significant safety measures, and evaluate the results to make a long-term decision. However, it was only supported by Coun. Grant Peters, failing 2-5.

Deputy Mayor Andy Macintosh, who voted against opening College Avenue, said he feels that removing the barricades there would be swapping on safety issue for another.

“When it comes to opening College, I don't think that's the answer. It's a temporary fix, and again, it's going to cause other safety problems, which we're all well aware of by emails we've been getting and such,” he noted.

Coun. Joe Andrews said he agrees with Deputy Mayor Macintosh upon review of Town staff's report regarding the traffic study.

“Those of us on council, we make decisions based on a lot of different information, and there was extensive information, traffic data, you name it, it was there [in the report]. But at the same time, logistically, we are moving one problem to another and creating another problem.”

After reading the study, Coun. Andrews said he had concerns with results showing 65 per cent of the traffic from the Parkinson Crescent residential area that currently travels eastbound on Broadway would be redirected onto College Avenue.

He added that safety is paramount, so if the opening of College Avenue moved forward, he would like to see a crossing guard put in place to assist with pedestrian traffic from the three schools in close proximity.

Coun. Andrews also commented on the importance of residents being taken care of from an emergency services perspective, in a timely fashion, but remained opposed to opening College Avenue.

Coun. Debbie Sherwood said she's very sympathetic to the concerns raised by people in the Veterans Way area, noting they are valid, but equally valid concerns are also coming from people on College Avenue and Elaine Drive.

“I sit there and I teeter totter, trying to weigh out the pros and cons. I'm not an engineer and I do respect very much your expertise on this Mr. Kocialek. However, I'm just going to make it known right now that I'm going to be voting against this,” she said.

Coun. Sherwood also noted that the people in Veterans Way or the Parkinson area should only be closed off to College Avenue for another 18 to 20 months. This is because the Edgewood Valley development was approved in February of 2021 and has until February of 2024 to complete the missing piece of road along Hansen. With road construction paused through the winter, it would have to be completed in the fall of 2023, said Coun. Sherwood.

Coun. Lisa Post said Coun. Sherwood almost took the words out of her mouth when it comes to voting against opening College Avenue.

“I've really had difficulties weighing this as well. The Veterans Way subdivision deserves to have a second access point, they absolutely do,” she remarked. "I am frustrated by the conversations that have happened over the last several years. where this has been made known as a concern for the last three years of our Council term, and I know before that as well.”

Coun. Post shared the sentiment that opening College Avenue is trading one safety concern for another and for her to support opening it, there would need to be an understanding of what would make the people who live along College Avenue feel safe.

She said she'd like to see the item deferred to a future meeting so those conversations can take place.

“After having some more consultations with the community, I would be more willing to perhaps have this conversation again,” Coun. Post noted.

Stop signs

Council directed Town staff to conduct a study and bring a report back at a future meeting that explores the viability of putting a stop sign or a pedestrian crossover (PXO) at Fieldgate Drive and College Avenue. Adding a stop sign there was recommended by Town staff if College Street was opened to traffic at Hansen.

In addition, Town staff will look at putting all way stop signs or PXOs at Spencer Avenue/Cornwall Gate, Alder Street/Glengarry Road, and Meadow Drive/Pheasant Drive, as suggested by Coun. Todd Taylor.

Background

Council raised concerns about the missing link for Hansen Boulevard, having only one way in and out of the area, as the project has faced delays associated with construction, during a March 21 meeting.

The main concerns raised were associated with response times for emergency vehicles, access issues if one point of entry is blocked at Veterans Way, convenience and travel times for residents, and the GHG emissions associated with excessive travel distances.

In response to the concerns raised by councillors, Town staff looked at how it could expedite the opening of Hansen Blvd and commissioned a study to see if College Avenue had the capacity to safely accommodate extra traffic if it were opened up.

The College Avenue Traffic Review from Triton Engineering Services Limited demonstrated that if College Avenue were opened, this would in fact be the case.

It also found that College Avenue can accommodate the addition of 50 per cent of the proposed Cachet development on Hansen, if it were to open before the road were connected, with negligible impacts to the level of service.

The decision to barricade College Avenue for traffic travelling westbound beyond the Hansen Boulevard intersection was done years ago with the belief that the development responsible for the missing link along Hansen would happen relatively quickly, according to Town staff's report.

The current timelines are to have a connecting bridge built by September of this year, but the road portion can't be completed until fall of 2023, if everything proceeds as planned.

 

 


Post date: 2022-05-19 16:05:09
Post date GMT: 2022-05-19 20:05:09
Post modified date: 2022-05-26 16:59:41
Post modified date GMT: 2022-05-26 20:59:41

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