MINDEMOYA – Central Manitoulin municipal representatives and Algoma-Manitoulin MPP Michael Mantha were pleased with the results of a site visit they had with representatives of the Ministry of Transportation and the Ontario Provincial Police (OPP) last week, looking at options and ways to make the Highway 542/551 intersection in downtown Mindemoya safer for vehicle and foot traffic.
“Just the idea that there were three senior representatives of the Ministry of Transportation (MTO) on hand for the meeting site visit, it shows how serious they feel the issue is and that they are willing to look at finding a solution, is a positive,” stated Richard Stephens, mayor of the Municipality of Central Manitoulin after a meeting and site visit was held on Wednesday of last week.
“I was pleased and the MTO representatives were obviously interested in the situation and coming to a solution on the issue,” said Mayor Stephens.
Jaclyn Lytle, communications coordinator, Northeast operations of the MTO, told The Expositor on
September 9, “ministry staff met with the Municipality of Central Manitoulin, MPP Michael Mantha and the OPP yesterday in Mindemoya. Three representatives from the ministry’s Northeast region attended the meeting: Kristen Franks, manager, regional services and relationships; Ms. Lytle, and Doug Herbrand, head of traffic section of the MTO. The meeting lasted approximately one and a half hours. Ministry staff appreciated the opportunity to observe the intersection firsthand and listen to the observations shared by the municipality, MPP Mantha and the OPP.”
“Everyone agreed there are always opportunities to look at other solutions to the concern, and that something needs to be done to make the intersection safer,” said MPP Mantha. “Over the years the MTO has carried out performance studies; in 2015, 2018 and in 2019. However, changes have come down over the years with, for instance, the grocery store, more construction in the downtown area and an influx of more people visiting Mindemoya every year, especially in the summer.”
“And they needed to have an independent firm carry out an operation performance review instead of doing this inhouse, and for it to be carried out in the summer when traffic volumes peak in this area and throughout Manitoulin Island,” continued MPP Mantha.
MPP Mantha noted that the MTO indicated that the operational performance review was carried out during the week of August 10. They looked at data and peak times of the day for traffic, between 7 to 9 am, 11 am to 2 pm and from five to 7 pm.
“The review also looked at the speed drivers are travelling in the area, parking, pedestrian use and traffic volumes,” said MPP Mantha. “They also looked at collision data at that intersection.”
“I was quite happy to see the involvement and the concern of everyone involved,” said MPP Mantha. “As we observed everything taking place (at last week’s site visit) of the intersection, from the crosswalk, we could see potential minor incidents that could have taken place, and this justifies that the confusion as to who is supposed to stop and what traffic is supposed to drive through, for example, needs to be removed, not only for the safety of vehicle drivers but pedestrians as well.”
“And what was nice about the site visit is that they (MTO) indicated they will be looking at information that comes out once the study report is complete and it will be shared with the municipality and that they have been listening to the concerns raised by the municipality and the OPP, and concerns expressed by local people on social media,” said MPP Mantha. “As well, the MTO was very interested in hearing local knowledge, from people and businesses who live and work here.”
As for solutions to the problem of the dangerous intersection, “it will not be a bureaucratic decision, but take in what people are saying are the concerns, and that it is important to rectify the hazards and confusion and do something for the safety and clarity of all drivers and pedestrians at the intersection.”
Ms. Lytle told The Expositor, “The ministry is currently anticipating the preliminary results of the operational performance review, which was conducted in August, by the end of September. The final report is expected to be complete by the end of October, at which time the ministry will engage the municipality to discuss the findings in further detail.”
As was reported previously, the scope of work includes a complete operational review of the intersection, as well as a speed study on Highway 542, north of the intersection. The goal of this review is to assess the performance of this intersection during the peak traffic volume season and to continue investigating options to enhance safety at this intersection.
Calls for action to rectify the concerns at this intersection were spurred on after a serious two vehicle motor vehicle accident at the downtown intersection in Mindemoya this past July. Larissa Moffatt, of Whitefish Falls, who is the owner of the Red Dog Bar and Grill, was seriously injured in the accident but provided some good and bad news in a Facebook post September 8.
“I wanted to take this opportunity to say a huge thank you to everyone for their extreme generosity, their concern, kind words, letters, cards and gifts. It truly has made this unfortunate experience much easier for me. I have spent so many days at the hospital (Health Sciences North) just thinking how incredibly lucky I am to have you all in my life,” wrote Ms. Moffatt.
Ms. Moffatt shared, “Good news! After two long months of intensive rehabilitation, I am being discharged tomorrow! Hard to believe. I am excited to finally be at home with my girl, Paige.”
Ms. Moffatt explained, “I’ve got a long road ahead of me but I’m so lucky to be surrounded by family and dear friends. My sister, Dana, and my mom, Nicky, have been by my side throughout this whole ordeal (as well as Paige). I’m beyond grateful to have their support.”
“Unfortunately, due to my injuries there is no way of knowing if/when I would be able to return to work at our beloved restaurant,” continued Ms. Moffatt. “Phil (Eadie) and I have decided to sell because of this uncertainty. It truly breaks my heart closing this chapter of my life. I honestly believed I would be there for the rest of my days! I am feeling so sad for all our loyal and generous customers. Over the years, you have become like family. I will certainly miss seeing all your faces.”
“Over the years, many staff have come and gone,” said Ms. Moffatt. “I would like to extend a big thank you to Michelle for sticking by my side for so many years. I depended on you a lot and you never disappointed. I realize this closure will be especially hard on you.”
“It will be strange to be home so much,” wrote Ms. Moffatt. “But I’m looking forward to this new chapter. Sending much love to everyone who supported me all these years and to those who made this most recent challenge manageable.”