Island municipalities need to get a handle on speeding

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Parents of young children walking along the streets of Island municipalities have been reporting encounters with dangerously fast vehicles of all shapes and sizes.

Despite the Northeast Town having reduced speed limits on the roads within its built-up areas to 40 kilometres a few years back, apparently too many drivers have still not received the memo.

Northeast Town council members have reported receiving numerous complaints from their constituents on many town roads and, most recently, Little Current Public School principal Heather Pennie officially noted concern about vehicles travelling at high speeds in the vicinity of the school on Blake Street and asked for increased signage. Ms. Pennie suggested that speed bumps could possibly be installed in the school zone. Principal Pennie also noted parents are concerned about the high speed of vehicles through the area, despite the recent addition of a drive-through parking lot to assist with traffic flow on Blake Street. The manager of Little Current Child Care Daycare Services, also located in the elementary school with access from the Blake Street side, echoed Principal Pennie’s concerns.

The problem of excessive speeders on local roads is not confined to the town of Little Current, or even just built up urban areas, as reports are coming in of excessive speeding on Townline Road in Sheguiandah and through the town of Mindemoya—it seems that anywhere that a driver can build up a good head of steam is being taken as fair game.

It is hard not to make a connection between the low rate of tickets being issued (see the precipitous drop in Provincial Offences Act revenues reported over the past couple of years in the pages of this paper) and the alarming rise in anecdotal reports of speeding in Manitoulin’s built-up communities. Who among us does not still instinctively step on the brakes when coming up over the hill into Espanola, former site of one of Ontario’s most best known speed traps (Espanola has since moved to OPP enforcement).

Although the Tim Hortons outlet located at the end of Blake Street at the juncture of Highway 6 is referenced in Ms. Pennie’s letter to council as a potential source of increased traffic on that road, the popular donut emporium and purveyor of coffee cannot be singled out when it comes to the many other Little Current streets where local residents also report increased speeding.

Island communities have stepped up to purchase radar signs to alert drivers to their speed and these seem to have had some impact, although those signs have not completely alleviated the issue and much more needs to be done to protect and serve our communities.

There are plenty of options available to assist in tackling the problem, one of which is stronger enforcement, but there are many others, some of which are of relatively low cost and which do not involve the challenges of installing speed bumps. We need to see movement on this issue from all of our municipalities before someone gets seriously injured.