Listowel residents raise concerns about Wallace Avenue traffic during public meeting

·8 min read

NORTH PERTH – A public meeting on June 21 allowed North Perth residents the opportunity for input and review of two proposed updates to the Listowel Ward Official Plan.

The first proposed update is to the existing transportation policies through the recognition of ‘Collector Roads’ as an additional road classification in Listowel and the change would reclassify Wallace Avenue South between Main Street and Line 84 as a collector road.

In 2020, North Perth initiated the preparation of a transportation master plan to meet the municipality’s changing transportation needs.

In anticipation of the implementation of the master plan, staff have initiated the amendment process to recognize collector roads. This effectively provides a fourth road classification complementing the provincial highways – a highway under the jurisdiction of the MTO, arterial roads – roads designed to carry high levels of traffic and local roads – roads designed to provide access to properties with low volumes of traffic.

All the residents who attended the public meeting were interested in the first proposed update to the master plan.

Donna Killam asked if Wallace Avenue South would become a one-way street as a collector road. She didn’t think that the pilot plan which was going to be implemented in 2020 to make Wallace Avenue one-way between Main and Elma would work.

CAO Kriss Snell said that the pilot program has been delayed because traffic volumes have dropped during the COVID-19 pandemic.

“There is still an opportunity for that to happen once traffic resumes more normally after COVID and secondly there are no plans that I am aware of to make the rest of Wallace Avenue a one-way street,” he said. “What we are looking to introduce is some traffic calming measures onto Wallace Avenue South and that’s the need to make it a collector road.”

Killam followed up by asking if the speed limit would be decreased.

“I’m hoping yes,” she said.

Snell said the traffic consultant, Paradigm Transportation Solutions Limited, will bring forward recommendations for council to consider in the transportation master plan.

Bonnie Ernest asked if the truck route which has been under discussion for decades would route trucks away from Wallace Avenue and the downtown core.

“My understanding is that… you can restrict traffic movement on collector roads,” said Snell.

Mayor Todd Kasenberg told Ernest that traffic management is a work in progress.

“This council will receive a more fulsome report about what should be done and I can tell you I sure hope the truck bypass is a strategy in there too, but we need to wait for that report to come to our council table,” he said.

Lynda Croskill said the increased traffic on Wallace Avenue South is making it so backing in or out of her driveway is almost impossible.

“It’s a nightmare trying to get out there,” she said. “I often have to wait for 10 or 15 cars to go by before I can get out.”

She also raised concerns about transport trucks using Wallace Avenue South.

“We have Johnston’s milk trucks going up and down the street and last time I looked there weren’t any farms on Wallace South,” said Croskill.

She also noted that if more stop signs are added to the street, enforcement is an issue.

“The stop sign at Wallace and Anger, they just blow through there,” said Croskill.

She spoke out against the pilot plan to make one block of Wallace Avenue one-way because she has to travel to her business at the north end of town.

“If we’re going to have to go blocks around all the time that just seems to be ludicrous,” said Croskill.

Snell said there have been conversations with Paradigm about the traffic concerns of residents on Wallace Avenue. He also mentioned that compliance with four-way stops in the municipality is an ongoing concern.

“That’s why four-way stops are not the answer for traffic calming because they tend not to work, unfortunately,” he said.

Snell said the reason why they were planning to make a section of Wallace Avenue one-way was to restrict southbound truck flow.

Croskill asked what will be done to allow traffic heading north to get on to Main Street.

Kasenberg interrupted the discussion.

“We’re kind of off-track for the Official Plan amendment,” he said.

He was not sure that questions about a pilot project that was publicly dealt with in 2020 had any bearing on introducing a new category of road.

Croskill asked what traffic calming measures could be introduced other than additional stop signs with the introduction of a collector road category.

“My understanding is this would be a tool to allow the traffic engineer to produce recommendations council could consider introducing three levels of streets in the Listowel Ward specifically,” said Snell. “All three of those designations would have certain traffic-calming proposals that would have to be approved by council once the report is received in the fall.”

Croskill said that did not answer her question.

Snell said he hadn’t seen a draft of the report.

“So you can’t tell us that then,” said Croskill.

“I think it’s fair to say that there’s a tool kit that engineers can bring to the table but they haven’t brought it to our table yet because they haven’t finished the work on the study,” said Kasenberg.

Snell said that the public meeting being held wasn’t for discussion of traffic-calming measures. It was just allowing the municipality under the Official Plan to classify roads.

“We felt we were missing that middle road, the collector road in our classification and we will bring forward additional information through the transportation master plan,” he said.

Croskill said as far as she could see, she was in favour of making Wallace Avenue South a collector road.

The second proposed amendment to the Listowel Ward Official Plan updates policies about “additional dwelling units” in all residential zones of the Listowel Ward that are currently permitted by the County of Perth Official Plan and update language in the plan to remain consistent with the Provincial Policy Statement.

In 2012, Bill 140, the Strong Communities through Affordable Housing Act authorized the use of second units in Ontario. A second unit was intended to be a self-contained residential unit with a private kitchen, bathroom facilities and sleeping areas within the existing dwelling or an accessory building. Municipalities were required to authorize second units.

More recently, in 2019, Bill 108, the More Homes, More Choice Act made amendments to the Planning Act to allow up to two additional residential units on a lot where there is a primary residential unit. This is part of the provincial government’s response to Ontario’s housing crisis.

The proposed amendment updates the language of the Listowel Ward Official Plan and permits an additional residential unit in any single, semi-detached and rowhouse dwelling.

The update will assist bringing the municipality’s local Official Plan into conformity with policy direction introduced in Bill 108 and the Planning Act, however, does not fully implement the ARU requirements as the policies have not been updated in the County of Perth Official Plan.

A new Official Plan for the County of Perth is currently being prepared with policies that address the updated additional residential unit requirements, but the current policy provides a maximum of one second dwelling unit per primary dwelling. So the updated language proposed through the amendment will align the Listowel Ward Official Plan will still only permit up to one additional dwelling unit.

“This is a very important step forward which has taken some time to do,” said Coun. Allan Rothwell. “But certainly as part of the affordable housing task force, this was one of the critical issues that we suggested needed to move forward so I’m in favour of that.”

He asked why the recommendation dealing with the transportation policies is coming forward when council has not seen the draft of the transportation master plan.

“If it’s not until the fall that we are going to see the report, I’m concerned that this is moving ahead without the full information,” said Rothwell.

Perth County Planner Sean Yilmaz said it was noted in discussion with the traffic consultant that the official plan did not include a collector classification for roads which is a common road classification so it was discussed that ahead of the transportation master plan it would be beneficial to add the road classification.

Rothwell noted that concerns from the public might indicate that Wallace Avenue South may already have traffic counts greater than a collector classification.

Seiler asked if this classification could help mark crosswalks better on Wallace south.

Snell said Paradigm has already been asked to pay special attention to areas where school children may be crossing Wallace.

Council accepted the report on the proposed amendments for information.

Colin Burrowes, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Listowel Banner

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