Golden Lake intersection proposal sees Kokomis realigned to deal with congestion

Golden Lake – The long-awaited preferred alternative for the Golden Lake intersection was unveiled last Wednesday with an existing road turned into a cul-de-sac, an existing road realigned west of the village and a three-way stoplight.

“This is the technically preferred alternative,” Ministry of Transportation (MTO) Project Manager Mark Pedlar explained at the Public Information Centre (PIC) on Wednesday afternoon. “It does not mean it is how we go forward.”

The busy intersection is the site of long lineups in summer as vehicles travelling on both Lake Dore Road and Kokomis Road struggle to get across Highway 60. There have also been collisions and near collisions, with poor sightlines, increased traffic and pedestrians adding to the chaos. As a result, there has been a lot of public interest in what will be done at what has become a chaotic intersection leading from the hamlet of Golden Lake to the Algonquins of Pikwakanagan First Nation (AOPFN).

A crowd of area residents, members of council and local business owners attended the meeting at the Golden Lake Community Hall last week where an explanation of the process was presented and staff members from Dillon Consulting, as well as the MTO, were present to answer questions. The PIC presented the preferred alternative for the intersection with a realignment of Kokomis road after the bridge and going out toward Highway 60 west of the village, between the core and Island View Drive. At this point there would be a three-way light on Highway 60. As well, the existing Kokomis Road would turn into a cul-de-sac where it currently intersects with Highway 60 and there would be no access to the highway there. The cul-de-sac would be directly over the location of the Golden Lake Variety/gas station. As well, Lake Dore Road would see a slight modification and the parking lot of the pharmacy would be slightly altered.

In June 2023, the first PIC – essentially an open house – presented a long list of alternatives. Following public input, this second PIC showed what had been narrowed down from then to the current preferred alternative.

“We had a list of 10 to 15 options and we took it down to five to carry forward,” Mr. Pedlar explained. “You look at things that don’t work and they come out right away.”

For many people in the community the preferred option has been traffic lights for many years. However, he explained the traffic signals option at the intersection of Lake Dore Road, Highway 60 and Kokomis Road was tossed out pretty early in the consultation process because the intersection angle is not aligned properly.

“You can’t put a signalized intersection that is less than 70 (degrees alignment),” he explained.

The Golden Lake intersection is about a 50-degree alignment. Optimum is 90 and the minimum is 70.

“We could never get permission to do a signal there,” he stressed.

The traffic signals would not have correct overlapping left turn movements and they also would require extensive property acquisition and even this would not correct sightlines, he explained. The signal lines are substandard to be put in so the MTO will not consider this option, he said.

The MTO is investing in doing the intersection right and not having to come back later and change things again, he said.

“We are coming here once in 50 years,” he said. “We can’t put in something substandard.”

Even if the lights were able to be put in, the delays would be significant if people want to turn left, he said.

The option of an all-way stop at the intersection was not recommended because there are predominantly more vehicles on Highway 60 than there are on Lake Dore Road/Kokomis and this would cause long delays for traffic on Highway 60 and potentially block entrances to businesses.

“So, the alternatives all include realignment of Kokomis Road,” he said.

Realignment of Kokomis Road

In looking at the four options to realign Kokomis Road, various factors including engineering, socio-economic impact, cultural resources and cost were factored in, with the preferred alterative according to these factors seen as realigning Kokomis with signals and a cul-de-sac at the end of the current Kokomis Road. This means access from Highway 60 would no longer exist at this spot.

At the PIC, the displays noted the property impacts presented with the realigned Kokomis were “conceptual in nature and subject to change” but they basically take the road to the west after the bridge in Golden Lake and intersect with Highway 60 west of the village. It does not line up with the old railway bed but runs near it. The exact location is also west of the firehall but before Island View Drive. This would be a three-way traffic light.

The existing plan does have impact to properties and businesses.

“However, given the highly constrained intersection, some full property buy-outs may be required,” the information presented acknowledged.

There is also potential significant wildlife habitat and species at risk implications with the realignment through an existing “bush” lot close to the waterfront. While a Phase 1 environmental study has been done, there is still a need for more environmental studies. If the design moves ahead, a biologist will do an assessment to “help confirm assumptions” for the environmental impact assessment, according to the documents presented. This would occur in the next phase of design.

There is potential of encountering contamination in the area. There is currently a gas station in the area and in the past, there were two garages in the vicinity and additional gas pumps.

There are also archeological and cultural heritage investigations which will need to be completed.

Mr. Pedlar said the PIC was an opportunity for the public to see the plan and comment. On Thursday the MTO/Dillon Consulting team also met with the Algonquins of Pikwakanagan (AOPFN) council and community.

Impact on Business

The impact on the local businesses at the intersection is acknowledged by the MTO and the consultants, Mr. Pedlar said. Businesses will be compensated accordingly, he said.

“No one is ever left on hold,” he promised.

While it appears with the existing drawings the cul-de-sac will go right where the Golden Lake Variety/gas station is now, it also means the Cottage Cup/Boat House will lose access to the highway and will be located at the end of a cul-de-sac. The impact on the business would be a loss of easy access to customers and just what would be the financial hit would only be seen later. However, the business owners would be compensated, he said. “There is a process for that,” he said.

As far as the gas station is concerned, it looks like this property is affected no matter which alterative is looked at.

“It was determined no matter which way we go forward, the gas station is involved,” he said. “There will be conversations on how this takes place.”

There is also a little re-alignment of Lake Dore Road, which would impact the Pharmasave in Golden Lake. A portion of the parking lot would be lost there. In this case as well, there is compensation, he said.

“We can look at how to minimize the impact,” he said. NAW Asked for Examination

North Algona Wilberforce Mayor James Brose was one of the members of council at the PIC. He noted this issue came up in his first term on council because traffic had increased so significantly in a short time in the village with traffic going to Pikwakanagan for cheap cigarettes and cannabis. In 2015, council asked the MTO to look at the intersection and deal with the increased traffic.

“We put in a request but it did not go very far,” he said.

In the ensuing years things got worse with the legalization of cannabis and the opening of about 13 cannabis shops in Pikwakanagan and NAW took this issue to the County of Renfrew where, with county support, the request gained a bit more traction. Lake Dore Road is a county road.

“Once we got everyone on board, things started,” he said, noting in the last six years there has been a concerted push for work on the intersection from multiple partners.

The intersection in the meanwhile has only gotten busier.

Mayor Brose stressed the importance of having the intersection modified for the safety of the community. He also questioned the ownership of the new road which would be created. In essence, under this proposal, the existing Kokomis Road would be re-aligned, but the current end of Kokomis Road would become a different road. Whether or not that road would be downloaded to the municipality is an unknown. This area is part of NAW.

He also asked at the meeting about consideration for aligning the road behind the gas station to mitigate the impact there. However, Mr. Pedlar said this created more difficulties with the road alignment.

“We are going to build it once and build it right,” he said.

Mayor Brose said there are many impacts in the community and he is very cognizant of this, especially with the businesses involved.

“This is probably not perfect for everybody,” the mayor acknowledged.

While NAW was only looking at the preferred option last week, he said in previous discussions council had wanted to see the current intersection maintained in some fashion.

“But we understand that option is off the table because of the alignment,” he said.

Mr. Pedlar said he knows there are concerns locally about the changes but it is a very difficult intersection because of the angles.

“The Dillon team has said this is the most difficult intersection they have worked on,” he said.

Next Steps

Following the PIC 2, the public has until May 1 to comment. Comments can be directed through There were also comment sheets at the meeting.

Following this, the team will respond to comments received and incorporate the comments into a preliminary design. The design would be published in the fall/winter of 2024 and then future design and construction would take place.

However, just when this project would occur is still unknown.

“Once we are done with design, we can narrow the cost for the funding,” Mr. Pedlar said. “We will be a couple of years.

“This is a premilitary design,” he said. “There is no engineering.”

There is also no dedicated funding by the province for the construction to be completed at this point.

Mr. Pedlar does not anticipate this will be a project which will occur in the next few years and there is no set start date once a design has been approved.

For residents traversing the busy intersection, it means more delays, danger, and collisions until changes are made. For the commercial outlets in the hamlet, it means business as usual for now.

Debbi Christinck, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, The Eganville Leader