Residents of St. Davids are continuing their fight against the Region of Niagara's proposed roundabout at the intersection of Four Mile Creek and York Road.
John Gartner, a former city planner who now lives in St. Davids, told council on Aug. 29 that the roundabout is unnecessary and could make the area less safe for schoolchildren.
“We need something that helps us get to our centre, not through our centre, that facilitates the attraction of people to that corner,” Gartner said, speaking on behalf of the St. Davids Ratepayers Association
The roundabout will prioritize the needs of motorists to move through the heart of the village quickly and efficiently and will decrease the amount of foot traffic to nearby businesses, Gartner said.
The roundabout would also make it less safe for children to cross the street going to and from St. Davids Public School, he added.
“A number of people are concerned that this will be used as another justification to get rid of St. Davids school,” Gartner said.
The needs of pedestrians are ignored in the proposal as well, he argued.
Many walkers have to cross the current intersection to use the essential services on the other side.
If the roundabout is built, Gartner said he won’t be crossing it.
“I think we would rather have nothing than the wrong something.”
According to a letter to council from the ratepayers association, alternatives to a roundabout have not been considered by regional transportation consultants.
One alternative is a bypass that would draw traffic away from the village.
The original plan for the roundabout was developed in 2005. Gartner argued those plans did not account for the rapid growth of St. Davids and a bypass might be a better option now.
“There has never been an evaluation of the merits of a bypass,” Gartner said.
He added that if a roundabout is built when a bypass would be better, it will make it much harder to make the switch in the future.
Council approved a motion by Coun. Sandra O’Connor objecting to the roundabout and asking for a meeting with regional staff and regional councillors to discuss the town’s concerns.
“To date, the region has not been receptive to our position,” O'Connor said.
Councillors echoed many of Gartner’s concerns, including those pertaining to the school and the impact of the roundabout on walkability and pedestrian safety.
“When every resident that you speak to is against it, I can’t in good conscience as a councillor be OK with that,” said Coun. Cheropita.
Coun. Norm Aresnault was in the minority when he endorsed the roundabout.
“Unlike Coun. Cheropita, I’ve met several people who do support the roundabout.”
“They work well. I’m not opposed to the one in St. Davids,” he added.
Arsenault did vote in favour of meeting with the region to discuss the concerns, though.
Coun. Erwin Wiens objected to constructing traffic lights instead of a roundabout and wished to make that clear to the region.
“If it ain’t broke don’t fix it,” he said, adding that the intersection causes little trouble and should be left alone.
Evan Loree, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, The Lake Report