Township invites residents to reimagine St. David Street North

FERGUS – Centre Wellington residents and businesses have the chance to reimagine St. David Street North in Fergus as the township considers how to reconstruct the major thoroughfare after infrastructure work is complete.

Colin Baker, managing director of infrastructure services, and Adam Gilmore, manager of engineering, told council on Feb.22 the watermain, sanitary sewer and stormwater infrastructure along St. David St. N., from St. Andrew St. to Edinburgh Ave., are slated for replacement in 2023.

The project also involves putting the road back together and that is an opportunity for improvements, they said.

St. David St. N. is also Highway 6 – a major truck route – and sees 12,000 vehicles a day.

A section of the street runs through downtown Fergus and acts as a “gateway to Centre Wellington’s architectural and cultural heritage,” Baker said.

St. David St. N. is currently two lanes wide with 14 on-street parking spaces between St. Andrew and St. Patrick streets.

Reconstruction of the street could include wider sidewalks, separated bike lanes, boulevard plantings and decorative lampposts, more or fewer parking spaces, wider or narrower road widths and traffic calming measures.

Gilmore presented four options to council that consider the transportation master plan, complete streets and active transportation.

The options are to serve as a jumping-off point for community consultation and conversation, he said, and are by no means the final version.

“We want to start a conversation about the future vision of St. David Street,” he said.

Gilmore said township staff will be consulting with the Ministry of Transportation and the downtown business association, and plan on holding a virtual open house to collect input from the community.

Councillors offered their immediate feedback but recognized this was only the beginning of the process.

“I struggle with losing more parking spaces, but I see the value of cycling lanes,” said councillor Steven VanLeeuwen in response to one of the options.

Councillor Kirk McElwain wondered if the Ministry of Transportation would allow narrowing lanes on a truck route, as proposed in another.

“We have seen it done,” Baker replied, adding that narrowing lanes can have a traffic calming effect.

With bump outs and boulevards, “the road doesn’t feel like a highway. We do need that conversation with the MTO though,” he said.

Councillor Stephan Kitras said until there is an alternate truck route, he would prefer to “streamline (the road) for trucks” and move bike traffic off St. David St. N. completely.

“I’m for cycling lanes, but not on this road,” he said. Kitras also thought turning lanes would ease congestion.

Baker said the presentation and concepts will be posted on the Connect CW website and notification will go out about the virtual open house once dates have been arranged.

Cost of the project is estimated at $2.97 million, but there’s an opportunity for some Connecting Links funding, Baker said.

Township officials hope to have a rough design concept in mind when it’s time to apply for the funding, usually in the fall.

Council approved the recommendation that staff proceed with public consultation on the project.