Escalating traffic volumes moving at dangerous speeds has Grey County taking a closer look at its regulating bylaw and enforcement options.
At a county committee of the whole meeting held on May 27, two Georgian Bluffs residents - Russ Pierson and Kevin Lind - gave a deputation about traffic speed limit concerns on Grey Road 17B.
“Last year, the OPP set up a traffic monitoring equipment on 17B to collect volume and speed data. We see on average 5,000 vehicles a day on 17B and here's the disturbing part, almost half the vehicles are speeding,” Lind said.
“And they're not just speeding on highways. If their GPS or Google Maps tells them to take a route because it is seconds faster, they are speeding through that community,” he continued.
Residents in the area say traffic volumes have increased substantially in recent years and the highway is being used as a bypass, which it was not designed for. The individuals presented a signed petition asking the county to lower the speed limit from 70 km/hour to 50 km/hour.
Following the deputation, county council passed a motion that will see staff prepare a staff report that will include recommendations to By-Law 4788-13 – Regulating Traffic and Parking within the County of Grey Roads System.
“Changing a sign isn't really going to make anyone go any slower. We've seen that time and again. So, that's what's been our reluctance to change the speed is that it's just not going to be effective,” said Pat Hoy, director of transportation for Grey County.
However, the deputation sparked a larger conversation around the council table about the growing number of instances of speeding and dangerous driving occurring on Grey County roadways.
“I think this is just an example of the kind of situation we're seeing more and more throughout Grey County, in all of our municipalities. We are certainly seeing it over here in the Town of the Blue Mountains (TBM),” said Rob Potter, deputy mayor of TBM. “Nobody likes to see speed limits change, especially when you see them reduced, but things are changing.”
Grey Highlands Deputy Mayor Aakash Desai called for the county staff to look at the feasibility of using automated speed devices.
Hoy confirmed that county staff have been actively monitoring the communities that have implemented automated speed enforcement, such as Toronto.
“It's very, very cost prohibitive,” Hoy said. “Toronto has been doing very well with these speed cameras. The downside, which seems counterintuitive, is if they do work and people actually slow down then you can't pay for them. If no one speeds, then you're spending a lot of money on something that is not bringing any income.”
“I haven't seen any small municipalities do it. And maybe that's why,” he added.
A staff report on the county’s traffic and parking bylaw is expected to be presented to council members at a July committee of the whole meeting.
Hoy confirmed that the report would include details on the feasibility of using automated speed enforcement in municipalities throughout the county.
“We need to look at this very carefully because it is a model for what we're seeing throughout the county,” said Potter, adding that a regional or county-wide strategy is necessary, "Otherwise, we're just going to be putting out fires here, there and everywhere.”
Jennifer Golletz, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, CollingwoodToday.ca