York Street won’t be widened during reconstruction

November 16, 2016   ·   0 Comments

It appears the residents of York Street will be getting exactly what they want after all, following Orangeville Council’s decision to leave the width of the downtown street alone during its upcoming reconstruction.

A collection of roughly 30 local residents crammed the council chamber on Monday night to lobby once again against the widening proposed as part of the Town’s York Street reconstruction project.

Led by York Street resident Wayne Townsend, the delegation presented an in-depth 15-point plea explaining exactly why they opposed the $1.2 million restoration, while also offering up two separate petitions – the first signed by all but one York Street resident and the second by a further 363 people – in an attempt to keep York Street the “charming way it is”. This marked the second such delegation following a similar gathering on Sept. 12.

The reconstruction, recently approved in the Town’s 2017 capital budget, involves the replacement of aging below-ground infrastructure, with old water and sanitary sewer lines the main focus. At issue was a proposal to widen the street to about eight metres so as to meet provincial guidelines. As a result, the roadway will remain roughly seven metres wide.

Mr. Townsend told council that taking the street beyond its current width would jeopardize several mature trees, something he and many other residents believe would “severely impact” the character of cultural landscape.

“The maintenance of our cultural heritage landscapes is important to all residents, we really want to keep the street looking as nice as it is today,” Mr. Townsend said. “Keeping the street in its current condition is necessary for residents to keep their sense of place.”

Mr. Townsend also pointed out that the municipality had not provided any specific traffic data or other information that would support a need to widen the street, while also pointing out there had been no indication from Orangeville police that York Street’s current width has led to any major accidents or fatalities.

“The way we see it, there’s absolutely nothing to support this decision,” he said.

Mayor Jeremy Williams said that while Council appreciated all the work Town staff puts into preparing these projects, it does side with local residents on issues of this nature.

“One of the things I love about this Council is that we’re very responsive to the community and our residents. Generally, we’ll side with our residents if they feel strongly enough about an issue,” Mayor Williams said.

However, he pointed out that the Town’s goal in redesigning York Street was not to “go in there and put in a Highway 400” but rather to bring the road up to provincial and municipal standards.

Coun. Scott Wilson said he thought Council should listen to the local residents and do everything it can grant their request.

“I believe if the people that live on York Street want to see it remain seven metres wide then we should respect that opinion. I’d like to state that in point 10 of (Mr. Townsend’s) document, it says that residents are asking that the street remain ‘as is’, which is great because that’s what I’d like to see happen too,” he said.

He added, “I travel on that road all the time and it doesn’t matter if there are people parked on one side of the street and there’s traffic (already on the road), I’ve never had a problem getting down the road. I’m more than happy to see York Street remain at seven metres wide.”

Council voted 5-1 in favour of keeping the street at its current width, with only Mayor Williams voting against in. Coun. Nick Garisto was absent for the vote.

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