CENTRAL MANITOULIN—Central Manitoulin council moved to set a meeting between between Carl Brown Bus, AJ Bus Lines, the OPP, the Ministry of Transportation (MTO), the road construction company AECOM and the municipality to discuss safety issues regarding the intersection of Highway 542 (King Street) and Highway 551. The motion originated in the Finance and Administration committee following receipt of a letter of concern from the bus lines outlining their worries with the intersection.
“There has been considerable concern regarding the safety of children at this intersection,” said Councillor Patricia MacDonald. “I had always seen it as a provincial highway area. It is very difficult to see anything coming around the corner.”
“Haven’t we already started this?” asked Councillor Adam McDonald. “It seems to me that we should all be in the room together.”
“That is my thought exactly,” said CAO Ruth Frawley.
“As long as we can all sit down and get some kind of resolution,” said Mayor Gerry Strong.
“This motion doesn’t name AECOM,” noted Councillor McDonald. “I am concerned about that, we need them at the table.”
The matter had been discussed during a previous council meeting. “Data that has been provided to us in the past by the Ministry of Transportation (MTO) shows there has never been a major event (accident) occur at this intersection,” said Councillor McDonald during the earlier discussion on the matter. “It irritates me that they seem to think we should wait until something happens before anything is done with this intersection. We already know this is a problem and those of us who work and live here on a daily basis have to put up with this. But those supposedly in the know have not been heeding any of our requests as of yet to get something done at this intersection,” said Councillor McDonald.
In fact, the very intersection under discussion has indeed been the site of tragedy in the past. Well-regarded Ojibwe artist Martin Panamick died after being run over by a school bus in the summer of 1977. The accident, according to the memories of those who recalled it at the time, reportedly involved gravel left at the site by the Ministry of Transportation causing the motorcyclist to slide under the wheels of the bus.
Council moved at that time “that the municipality request more information regarding highway rehabilitation from AECOM and a meeting with the engineers be requested.”
The latest motion expands the parties included in the meeting, particularly in regard to the bus companies that transport students to and from Central Manitoulin Public School and Manitoulin Secondary School.
Of particular concern in both meetings are sight lines at the intersection and the dangers posed by parking in the area leading up to the intersection.
No date was set at the council meeting as to when the meeting was to take place.