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Accessibility could prove costly for county

by Patrick Raftis

GUELPH - Accessibility at busy intersections is about to become a major concern for Wellington County, some councillors feel.

At the Nov. 26 Wellington County council meeting, councillor and roads committee chair Gary Williamson advised council of an accessibility request from a resident of Palmerston.

“This could turn into an issue county wide  because  there  are definitely impacts at the county level as  well as the local level,” said Williamson.

A report from county engineer Gord Ough explained that a letter from Palmerston resident Jessica Cashmore raised an accessibility issue related to the intersection of Toronto Street (Wellington Road 5) and Prospect Street in Palmerston.

Cashmore, who is blind and gets around with the aid of a guide dog, finds the intersection dangerous to use due to the speed of traffic on both streets, explained Ough.

In her letter, she requests an all- way stop or crosswalk be installed at the intersection, “so that traffic can be more aware of pedestrians. This change will also benefit school children as [Palmerston Public School] is nearby.”

Ough explained a traffic count has been carried out and the “technical warrants” are not satisfied.

However, he notes, staff recommended a pedestrian crossing sign option rather than an all-way stop. The pedestrian crossing sign and the solar powered flashing lights would be installed on Toronto Street to alert vehicular traffic, in both directions, that a pedestrian is crossing or is about to cross the street.

Ough notes the Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act, 2005 requires “municipalities make their best efforts to accommodate request(s) from persons with disabilities.”

“I think this could be a very major financial issue for us county wide,” said councillor Andy Lennox, who pointed out Wellington North’s first audible signals are being installed in Mount Forest at the township’s expense.

Councillor Kelly Linton asked Ough to explain how roads would be prioritized for accessibility requirements and where that fits into the capital budget process.

Ough indicated he would prefer to bring back a full report on the topic.

Council agreed with a road committee recommendation to defer the installation of solar powered crosswalk beacons to allow staff to develop a county-wide approach.

December 4, 2015


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