Council discusses traffic issues, possible Community Safety Zones in Puslinch

PUSLINCH – Community Safety Zones and speeding were top of mind at a recent council meeting here.

At the Oct. 21 Puslinch meeting, council heard from resident Leigh McDonald about speeding and unsafe conditions on Victoria Road, discussed councillor John Sepulis’ motion about asking Wellington County to make Brock Road through Aberfoyle a Community Safety Zone and Wellington County Warden Kelly Linton asked for councillor input for the county’s Roads Master Plan.

However, the definition of Community Safety Zones has not been identified yet.

Puslinch CAO Glenn Schwendinger said the county will be establishing criteria for Community Safety Zones in its Roads Master Plan.

“While it’s a little bit premature to be suggesting things now, there’s no harm in suggesting it because they’ll just add it to the list for consideration, but they still have to develop the criteria for it,” Schwendinger said.

“Just because we suggest something it may not necessarily meet the criteria in the future but at least they know which roads that we’re considering.”

Leigh McDonald

McDonald appeared as an electronic delegation before council.

“We’re basically looking at the volume of traffic, speed, and erratic driving on Victoria Road south, mainly between Maltby Road and Wellington Road 34,” she said.

“Currently on Victoria it’s 70km and (we’re) looking to have that reduced to a Community Safety Zone, as well.”

The real issue she said is speeding with people going 15 to 20km above the posted 70km/h speed limit.

“When you look at the number of cyclists, joggers, people walking their pets, along that stretch of road, you have the blind corner near the pond and a hill coming down as well, and there are a number of homes and residential areas through that stretch that it’s quite dangerous turning in and out onto that road,” McDonald said.

The exotic car tours, drag racing and heavy truck traffic also adds to increased speeds and safety issues along Victoria Road.

“The speed along this stretch of road has to be looked at and reduced just for the safety of the residents as well as the drivers and I really feel that if this is not addressed I think at some point there will be a fatality,” she said.

One of McDonald’s suggestions to curb the speeding was to install lane dividers.

“It would really be a deterrent for those speeders and unsafe passers,” she said.

However, Mayor James Seeley said lane dividers are $400 a piece and are usually taken down for the winter so it’s expensive and not a year-round option.

He did point out that Wellington County was purchasing seven Black Cat speed cameras, which can cover two lanes of traffic recording data like speed, commercial/residential vehicle and traffic volumes.

“They’re going to be a huge asset in determining any action if need be on roads,” Seeley said.

“We could have them deployed for a week or two at a time and capture all that data and review it.

“So they’re going to be quite a nice little tool in the tool box for us to help people like yourself with their concerns.”

Seeley also said he remembered a time when Victoria Road south was posted as a 60km/h limit, but the sign has since been removed. He asked staff to check if there’s an existing bylaw the proves the speed limit should still be 60km/h.

The remainder of council also thanked McDonald for her delegation and pointed out her concerns are not unique to Victoria Road but occurring throughout the township.

“To me the best approach here would be to include an analysis in the Roads Master Plan that we’re undertaking, hopefully next year, to establish the criteria that would be required for a Community Safety Zone,” councillor Jessica Goyda said.

“And I know that’s not a quick fix, and probably not what you want to hear but I say this because there are a limited amount of enforcement resources and because this is such a common problem throughout the township.

“I think in order to make the most effective use of those resources it’s important to establish what those criteria should be.”

Councillors Sarah Bailey, Matthew Bulmer and Sepulis agreed with Goyda.

“I think a lot of your concerns are voicing what is happening across the township, so I think you’re kind of capturing a lot of voices with yours today, so it was great that you came forward with that,” Bailey said. “I was also going to touch on the Community Safety Zone concern and again just want to make sure that we will be coming up with a criteria for what that stipulates and make sure that we can kind of nail that down.”

Bulmer pointed out that it was a resident who brought forward the idea to council to paint a middle line on Victoria Road around the pond, south of Maltby, many years ago. Now there are lines on many township roads.

“While it may take time from what you’ve heard from other members of council about waiting for studies and things, rest assured that hearing from residents from across the township is going to help guide these decisions,” he said.

Wellington County Roads Master Plan

Seeley explained that Linton is asking for councillors to provide feedback on the county Roads Master Plan as well as a potential focus. Community Safety Zones are part of the equation.

“I’m going to be advocating for Community Safety Zones and eventually we’re going to be working towards, fingers crossed, electronic speed enforcement in Community Safety Zones and I’m going to identify Aberfoyle, basically all the 50 (km/h) zones in the hamlets on county road infrastructure as priorities,” Seeley said. “That’s Lake Road, Aberfoyle, Badenoch, Arkell.”

Councillors supported Seeley’s commenting direction.

Notice of motion

Council also discussed Sepulis’ notice of motion from the Oct. 7 council meeting asking for the county to consider making Brock Road (Wellington Road 46) in Aberfoyle a Community Safety Zone.

“The areas have not been determined,” Sepulis said.

“They have not formulated any criteria but if they do proceed I think it’s very prudent on our part to be proactive and make them aware of our concerns in our township with respect to Brock Road.”

He also reminded council that Wellington County is still considering Puslinch’s request to reduce the number of lanes on Brock Road through Aberfoyle.

“I think we’ve got to be more assertive in reducing the speed limit,” he said. “If we designated a section of roadway or have the section of roadway designated a safety zone … the fines will be doubled and will allow for police enforcement.

Sepulis also pointed out that the township has spent time improving “main street” (Brock Road) but if the speeding continues it will be all for nothing because people won’t want to spend time there.

All of council supported his motion to request that Wellington County consider designating Brock Road between Wellington Road 34 and Gilmore Road a Community Safety Zone.

“I agree that perhaps there are other areas in the township that would benefit from this as well but I think none are quite the same as this section with all of the community facilities and the school and just the through traffic from the highway to the City of Guelph,” Goyda said.

“I think that I would hope that the county, if they’re going to consider it anywhere, this would be the best place to have it.”

Bulmer said reducing speeding and establishing a Community Safety Zone could help keep people in Aberfoyle.

“It’s continuing a vision that was put in place for Aberfoyle a long time ago to make sure that Aberfoyle was well positioned to do well after the construction of the Highway 6 bypass,” he said. “I look forward to seeing some benefits come from this.”