Puslinch councillor John Sepulis still seeks parking lane in downtown Aberfoyle

ABERFOYLE – Puslinch councillor John Sepulis wants to put the interests of people before cars along Brock Road (Wellington Road 46) .

To do that, he and Puslinch councillors plan to convince Wellington County to reduce the number of driving lanes through Aberfoyle.

This time, the idea is to make their pitch directly to the Wellington County roads committee.

On Oct. 2 Sepulis outlined the presentation he intends to make along with members of council.

Sepulis stated the intent is to go forward to the Wellington County roads committee with a presentation  supported by council.

He hoped the presentation would be by the mayor and all councillors – “it’s not me, it’s us.”

Sepulis noted an open house was held by the county in December 2018 regarding the reconstruction of the existing four lane roadway with the addition of roundabouts at Gilmore and Wellington Road 34.

Sepulis said residents voiced concern with retention of four lanes of traffic.

The suggestion was made that to make the area more people friendly by having three lanes of traffic (one north, one south and a centre lane for turning) plus one lane to be used for parking.

In December 2018, Puslinch council passed a resolution noting its desire to “revitalize Aberfoyle into a pedestrian friendly hamlet with commercial and retail enterprises, once the Morriston bypass has been completed.”

Council then asked the county to consider reconfiguring the road once the Morriston bypass is in place.

Sepulis said that request was recieved as information at the roads committee Jan. 8 meeting.

He stated the benefits of reconfiguring pavement markings include: encouraging revitalization of the Aberfoyle hamlet; creating a pedestrian friendly environment; creating an opportunity for streetfront businesses; and, building on township plans to rebrand area.

“Most importantly, it puts people before cars,” Sepulis said.

Additionally, he said the change provides an opportunity to address traffic and safety concerns for Aberfoyle Public School.

He noted the proposed presentation includes a slide pointing out the township offices are within 300m of the road and the Puslinch Community Centre, soccer fields, Optimist Recreation Centre (including hockey rink and gymnasium), Aberfoyle Farmers’ Market, Aberfoyle Fall Fair, Aberfoyle Public School, Aberfoyle Antique Market, Aberfoyle Mill and the Nestlé bottling plant are located on or near this road between Wellington Road 34 and Gilmour Road.

“This is a hub for the township of Puslinch, where essential public services are for the residents,” he said.

He argued that while an empirical assessment of reconfiguration is not available, ongoing construction restricts traffic to one lane per direction “acts as a surrogate for conditions with the proposed configuration.”

He then provided links to videos of rush hour traffic at 7:30am and 5:30pm to illustrate traffic still flows smoothly.

“I do not see an insurmountable problem created,” he said.

While there are plans to eventually widen Brock Road to four lanes between the Guelph boundary and Wellington Road 34, Sepulis stated there is no timeline as to when that would occur.

He contended the idea of road reconfiguration is not a new concept.

He pointed to the example of downtown Waterdown along Highway 5 (Dundas Street) east of Highway 6.

While the highway remains four lanes outside the downtown core, downtown it was reconfigured to two lanes, centre lane and a parking lane.

Sepulis argued traffic there is significant as well.

He stressed there was no request for overall pavement widening to accommodate this proposal in Aberfoyle.

In summary, he requested Wellington County Roads consider reconfiguring pavement markings as part of current construction to provide one lane for northbound traffic, one lane for southbound traffic, one centre lane, one parking lane and one lane through roundabouts.

Mayor James Seeley said he appreciated the work done by Sepulis.

“Hopefully we can get some action to come out of it,” he said.

Councillor Matthew Bulmer said “as I read though this I thought of when the Aberfoyle bypass was originally built with the intent of moving through traffic away.

“Sometimes I wonder why we are trying to encourage through traffic back into Aberfoyle?”

Bulmer said if the area is walkable, perhaps more people would take time to explore the community.

He suggested “Concession Road is the ‘new’ Brock Road for arterial truck traffic as it connects the industrial park  employment lands to the Hanlon Expressway – so there is no real need for trucks to come up Brock Road.”

He suggested the county might consider swapping Concession 7 and Brock Road.

Seeley agreed swapping the roads “is a great idea.”

He noted when he spoke to the county about the possibility of restricting truck traffic on Brock Road, he was told that under the Highway Traffic Act regions are permitted to restrict truck traffic – but counties are not.

“But if we were to swap roads, it would no longer be a county road and the municipality could place restrictions. I would like to get truck traffic out of Aberfoyle as well,” Seeley said.

Councillor Jessica Goyda  said she believed “the videos would help drive the message home” and the comparison to another community is also useful.

Seeley added, “once they see this presentation, I cannot see how they would not agree with us. Let’s keep our fingers crossed.”

Council later passed the resolution supporting this report and asked that it be presented to the Wellington County Roads committee.