LITTLE CURRENT – Last month, Northeast Town council noted the high number of complaints it had received from residents of Little Current over speeders taking residential streets to avoid extensive construction occurring in that community this summer.
Council had asked Northeast Town Community Policing Advisory Committee (CPAC) representative Al Boyd to ask the Ontario Provincial Police (OPP) for use of its radar sign. The OPP obliged and placed the sign along Wilson Street on June 19 and June 20 over a period of 29 hours, Councillor Boyd explained.
Councillor Boyd gave a full breakdown of what the radar sign compiled, noting that the average speed was 44.05 kilometres per hour. Over that time, 737 vehicles used Wilson Street, 518 of which were above the speed limit of 40 km/hr.
Public works staff also placed pylons along the side of the road which has been shown to have a slowing effect for drivers.
Mayor Al MacNevin said council should request more speed monitoring in Little Current overall from the OPP.
At the following meeting of council on June 29, council received a letter from Jeananne Thibault on behalf of the tenants of East View Apartments and other neighbours on Draper Street East, near Little Current Public School (LCPS). Ms. Thibault had also raised concerns with excessive speeds on Draper Street East since construction began on both highways coming into Little Current.
Ms. Thibault and the signatories on her letter called on council to improve and enlarge school and community safety zone signage; to reduce the speed limit from 40 km/h to 30km/h “ensuring this is a posted community safety zone;” and for council’s support in the residents’ request to the OPP to have the speed sign erected as soon as possible on Draper Street East as well as additional OPP patrols through the day and evening.
“We would like the above recommendations to be acted upon sooner than later for safety reasons,” Ms. Thibault’s letter continues.
CAO Dave Williamson went through the letter with council, pointing out that this area is, in fact, not a community safety zone. He also noted that the area is already zoned at 40 km/h and is a matter for OPP enforcement. “If you want to reduce the speed limit, that’s at council’s leisure,” Mr. Williamson added.
“I’m concerned that we can’t create a community safety zone in a school area,” said Councillor Jim Ferguson.
Mr. Williamson explained that to create a community safety zone, council must submit an application to the OPP which then submits it to the Ministry of Transportation (MTO). Speed fines would then be doubled in this area.
Mayor Al MacNevin said a traffic study would typically be done by the MTO and the area’s accident history would be studied. “If there’s no history, this would make it (community safety zone) difficult to get.”
“We’re experiencing a one-month blip in construction and detours,” Mayor MacNevin reminded council, suggesting Councillor Boyd seek further use of the OPP radar sign.
Councillor Boyd, a former OPP constable, explained that community safety zones are not typically found in a school zone. “They’re very hard to obtain,” he continued, adding that he would put a request in for the radar sign.
“This is a temporary issue, sort of,” said Councillor Michael Erskine. “This is not the first time we’ve heard concerns of heavy traffic on the side streets. It’s an ongoing concern and I think we need to find a more permanent solution.”
Council had budgeted for the creation of a Draper Street East sidewalk this year that would run from LCPS to Manitowaning Road, but following the Tim Hortons construction setback, decided to use the sidewalk funds elsewhere. Since that decision was made, construction on the Tim Hortons is well underway.
Council agreed to ask for increased monitoring of the detours and the placement of the radar signs.