The Town of the Blue Mountains (TBM) is currently working on a Transportation Master Plan to guide its future decisions around transportation policies and investments.
The plan is meant to inform policies to manage the transportation challenges associated with the growth the town is experiencing and that is projected for the future.
Slated for completion by summer 2022, the plan is being created with the assistance of research by Stantec Consulting, a global design firm that is carrying out research on transportation trends and needs in TBM.
The project is coming toward the end of its first phase, where the results of studies and public surveys were brought to the transportation committee.
The findings, which were presented in part on Sep. 30, included information surrounding people’s preferred methods of traffic management, preferred modes of transportation, and transportation issues that the public perceived in TBM, among other topics.
The consultant reported 251 residents completed surveys sharing their views on various transportation issues.
According to the surveys, the public viewed traffic congestion as the main issue plaguing TBM transportation infrastructure, followed by road safety, and the need to expand walking and bicycle infrastructure.
When asked what improvements could be made to improve the safety of the town, the most popular suggestions were to pave shoulders to improve safety for cyclists, separate cyclists from vehicle traffic where possible, and improve intersections in town.
The surveys also polled people on their ideal mode of transportation in TBM.
Stantec's studies also looked at traffic volumes in TBM, including how much traffic is generated by local and outside travellers, as well as traffic volume over the past several years.
Some members of the committee questioned the traffic volume statistics, as the data is gathered from a vehicle’s starting point – which could be after a short break that was taken on the way to TBM, or after arrival to town.
The data shows a high volume of local traffic.
Traffic from Barrie on winter Saturdays, for example, makes up only one per cent of travel based on the collected data.
“Those high internal numbers might not really be that high. I don’t believe that you only have one per cent of the volume on a winter Saturday coming from the Barrie area,” Councillor Rob Sampson said. “Maybe that data’s a little bit misleading.”
Travel in the area generally decreased over the course of 2020, amidst the pandemic, but summer Saturday trips grew three per cent between 2019 and 2020. Winter Saturday trips, on the other hand, dropped 22 per cent over the same period, and fall weekday trips dropped by 15 per cent.
The committee ran out of time before it could fully review the results of Stantec’s studies and will continue its discussion at the next meeting on Oct. 21.
Phase two in the development of the Transportation Master Plan will see the committee work on alternative solutions to identified problems, after which it will be brought to council.
There will be a virtual Public Information Centre available to the public later in the fall, as well as additional surveys for public participation.
Greg McGrath-Goudie, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, CollingwoodToday.ca