All-way stop signs bring Grey Highlands council to a halt

·3 min read

A pair of potential all-way stop signs brought Grey Highlands council to a halt this week.

At its meeting on Sept. 21, council received what appeared to be a routine traffic safety report from engineers R.J. Burnside and Associates about measures that could be taken to calm traffic at the intersections of Road 63 and 10th concession and Road 63 and 8th Concession.

The debate and discussion that followed was anything but routine and consumed more than two hours of council’s time and required one lengthy break for Clerk Raylene Martell to do more research.

The report recommended the immediate implementation of several traffic-calming measures at the two intersections including: speed limit signs, oversized "hidden intersection" signs, large signs warning of a stop sign coming up, and more cutting back of vegetation in the area.

The report also recommended the municipality consider, in the near future, other measures including more police enforcement, digital speed signs, flashing stop sign beacons and road profile improvements. The report did not recommend the installation of all-way stop signs at the two intersections. The absence of all-way stops in the report led to considerable consternation around the council table.

Coun. Danielle Valiquette moved a resolution to receive the report and direct staff to immediately implement all the recommended measures and asked staff to bring a report back for the 2023 budget (and the next council) about the implementation of the measures the engineers suggested be considered for the two intersections.

Valiquette’s motion set off a sequence of events that saw multiple amendments come forward that resulted in a lengthy discussion.

The main issue was the lack of a recommendation for all-way stop signs at the two intersections. Councillors Dane Nielsen and Paul Allen both advocated for all-way stop signs.

“The issues are speeding and rolling stops, I know they’re not recommended but four-way stops would slow people down. Flashing beacons and speed display are medium costs, the four-way stop is the low cost,” said Allen.

Nielsen said he appreciated the time and effort put into the report and the recommendations, but questioned if those measures would work.

“There isn’t actually anything to help control the rate of speed on Road 63. I’m just a little disappointed,” he said.

Allen subsequently moved to amend Valiquette’s motion to add all-way stops to the two intersections. This led to Deputy Mayor Aakash Desai pointing out that in the spring council had defeated a resolution to install all-way stops at the two intersections in favour of getting the safety report from the engineers. Desai suggested a new resolution would constitute a “reconsideration,” which requires the approval of two-thirds of council.

Desai’s comments set off a lengthy delay in the proceedings as council had to take a break for Martell to look into the reconsideration matter further. After a 15-minute break, Martell advised that council had defeated a resolution on all-way stops in April and traditionally council used the reconsideration process for any item that had been defeated.

However, the Clerk said on this matter there was a grey area as the amendments proposed by councillor stemmed from a separate and new report on the issue. Martell noted it was up to Mayor Paul McQueen, as chair, to rule on the reconsideration.

McQueen subsequently ruled he would allow the amendment, which prompted Coun. Cathy Little to challenge his decision. In a 4-3 vote council upheld Little’s challenge and Allen’s all-way stop amendment was ruled out-of-order. Nielsen, Allen and McQueen voted against the ruling.

Ultimately, council passed a resolution directing staff to immediately implement all the recommendations and the items to be considered with the exception of the road profile improvements, which would constitute a major reconstruction project and the digital speed display signs, which will be sent to the 2023 budget process for consideration.

The resolution passed in a unanimous vote.

Chris Fell, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, CollingwoodToday.ca