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Resident asks for stricter measures in new school zone but gets level-one traffic calming

'We fully agree with traffic calming on our road, however, this signage will impede access to our driveways and will not slow traffic on our streets,' says West River Road resident, who asked for speed bumps and speed cameras instead of a painted median proposed by staff
A proposed school zone at West River Road, in front of Tait Street Public School, will reduce speed, parking spots and parking abilities.

A resident asked council to consider stricter speed reduction measures in the proposed school zone in front of Tait Street Public School.

However, Matthew Lyle's ask for speed bumps and speed cameras was rejected in favour of the staff recommendation of a painted median, signage and no-parking anytime in both sides of West River Road at the school. 

"We fully agree with traffic calming on our road, however, this signage will impede access to our driveways and will not slow traffic on our streets," the West River Road resident told council. "Due to the size of the properties on the road, we often have landscapers and large trucks delivering sod, mulch and soil, etc. This will make these delivery services nearly impossible. The signage and no-parking anytime in place will not allow for landscapers to park their trucks and trailers on the road. This will cause them to drive their lawn equipment down West River Road to access driveways." 

Further, Lyle said, the measures will make it difficult for several of the residents to back in their boat trailers.  

"We, along with several other residents, feel that speed bumps, similar to the ones added further down West River Road, will be much more effective as cars will have to slow when passing over them," he said. "In addition to this, speed camera will help slow traffic without using police resources." 

Lyle said he understands that these recommendations are part of level one in the city's traffic calming efforts and will only cost $4,000.

"However, a sign and painted median will not slow traffic," he reiterated, adding there's already signage that indicates that parking is only available during certain hours, but there's no policing of the rule. "The sign that's being placed on the road is being referred to as a seasonal sign. My concern is what will be used in the off-season to continue to calm traffic on the road?"

Coun. Donna Reid asked staff what had led to the suggestion presented in the recent report brought to council

Kevin De Leebeeck, director of engineering, said it was done through a traffic investigation that determines the volume and speed of traffic in the area.

"Based on the 85th percentile of the traffic observed, we would determine the traffic calming measures based on the city's traffic calming policy," he added.

De Leebeeck said the median, part of the level-one traffic calming measures, is faciliated by a 54-metre section of no-parking at all times in its vicinity.

"There is already no parking on the east side of West River Road and existing no parking on the west side during school hours," he said.  

Reid then asked if the efficacy of level-one measures had been determined.

"In some cases, the level-one traffic calming measures have been effective, in other instances it hasn't worked and we've had to up our game to move to level two," said De Leebeeck. "In accordance with our policy, we keep ratcheting it up based on our first measures."

Lyle said he wasn't okay with that approach.

"I think that spending the $4,000 now to then have to turn around and take it out to implement something more expensive is foolish and not a good use of taxpayer money," he said. "I believe we should move to a solution that we can ensure will slow traffic. The main issues are modified vehicles and motorcyclists travelling at a high speed. They will continue to do so regardless of signage or painted median." 

Coun. Jan Liggett wanted to know Lyle's thoughts around limiting parking on the street. 

"I do think it is a good thing to do," he said. "I don't think it will change the speeding by any means. But limiting parking on that side will allow for more access when people are trying to get to work during school drop-off time is a good idea."

Coun. Scott Hamilton asked staff where would drivers seek parking in the area if not on those sections of West River Road.

"I'm not sure where people may decided to choose to park if those parking spaces aren't there. It would be up to individual motorists to determine," said De Leebeeck. 

Coun. Pam Wolf wanted to know how the reduction of parking in the area would affect the school's supply teachers and volunteers.

"Have you talked with the school or the principal there?" she said. "Do they have enough parking for supply teachers or volunteers? Those parking spots might be crucial." 

De Leebeeck said it's his understanding that staff have engaged with the school about removing parking spaces was to mitigate some of the student drop off that may be occurring along that section of the road. The school, he said, wants to encourage more active transportation for those that are able to walk to school.

Council voted in favour of the level-one traffic calming measures with an understanding that the staff will keep an eye on the efficacy of the measures to go up to level two if need be.