NOTL residents ask for speed reduction, and municipal water in their neighbourhood

Residents of East and West Line were being given attention on two separate matters on Tuesday night’s committee-of-the-whole general agenda.

Delegates gave presentations on two issues, both of which have related petitions attached to them, ahead of unrelated reports that were approved at the committee of the whole meeting.

There is an appetite to reduce the speed limit on East and West Line between Lakeshore and Four Mile Creek Roads, which later resulted in action being taken through a vote by councillors – that a reduction to 70km/h from 80km/h be approved, following a motion brought forward by Coun. Wendy Cheropita.

Also on the agenda and an issue raised by delegates Juan and Kurt Neumann from Neumann Farms, was that the town explore providing municipal drinking water from Four Mile Creek Road to Lakeshore Road, or close to it.

This was something raised by landowners in the area last March, which resulted in a motion at that time approved by council, directing staff to collaborate with the Niagara Region to conduct a thorough investigation into the feasibility of installing a water main along East and West Line from Four Mile Creek to Lakeshore. It also asked that the investigation include an assessment of the costs, logistics, potential benefits associated with the proposed water main installation, and funding options.

A report on the same subject on Tuesday’s agenda said there are “hurdles” that need to be overcome following the work that has taken place so far.

There is no information about whether the concept can be supported from an engineering and operation standpoint, the report says, because costs are unknown, as is available pressure. A review of existing septic systems in the area and an “overall plan” for a water main location are still outstanding, says the staff report.

On Tuesday, councillors voted to move ahead with a servicing report, which interim director of operations Darren MacKenzie said could make its way to an agenda by July.

Kurt Neumann, who spoke on both issues, complained of rusty water and said he has water transported to his property regularly.

Addressing the report on a water main extension, Coun. Erwin Wiens said it’s important people in that rural area, many who are growers, have access to clean water.

“We’re cleaning fruit that’s going all over North America,” said Wiens, who is a grape grower as well as a NOTL councillor.

Costs associated with this project would be done through a front-ending agreement, with the petitioners paying for all associated costs, staff said in its report.

Any resident wishing to be included in the system who are not part of the original petition would then pay as they connect to it, the report continues.

“We’re just facilitating something for them,” said Wiens, noting the cost of the expansion wouldn’t impact taxpayers through the levy.

Coun. Sandra O’Connor asked whether an order from public health would be needed about the cleanliness of water in that part of town before moving ahead with staff creating a servicing report, to which MacKenzie said staff would work with the region on that at the same time.

Interim chief administrative officer Bruce Zvaniga said this would be done “in parallel” with the town’s next report, also noting staff would address issues related to the quantity of clean water that exists.

Lord Mayor Gary Zalepa agreed with the CAO. “I’m confident they’ll all be dealt with accordingly,” he said.

On the matter of speeding in the same vicinity, also addressed through presentations by the Neumanns and nearby resident and business owner Wally Dingman, council voted unanimously to reduce the speed limit between Four Mile Creek and Lakeshore Roads to 70km/h, but that wasn’t done without questions raised.

Coun. Nick Ruller added a friendly amendment to Cheropita’s motion that this action be taken, but also that speed minder data be collected for the area and that the decision can be revisited later if needed.

This came after Zalepa expressed concerns about work staff have already been directed to do, which is looking at speeding drivers across town, and not on one specific road.

“A full town-wide approach” is what he would prefer to see, he said, adding he doesn’t believe East and West Line will immediately become safer with a slight 10km/hour speed limit reduction.

“It’s alarming, and it concerns me as well,” said Zalepa referring to comments made by delegates about the number of collisions, and near collisions, they have seen over the years.

Zalepa said he also looks forward to a “more holistic report” about speeding in rural areas, saying that one outcome of it could be that all rural areas have speed limits reduced, unless otherwise posted.

Before councillors approved her motion to reduce the speed on East and West Line as soon as possible, Cheropita said she agrees a town-wide approach is needed, but that taking this step would be getting some of that work done ahead of time.

The town could say it “already accomplished it in this area,” she said.

Juan Neumann told council he understands the influx of traffic along East and West Line is due to the town’s growing tourism industry, which he has no issue with.

But he wants all motorists, locals and people from out of town, to be safe. “We all love our tourists. We are concerned for everyone who uses East and West Line,” he said.

Kris Dube, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Niagara-on-the-Lake Local