Orchard Point Residents, 4 More Years, Maybe

Monday evening’s council committee meeting had a fairly light agenda. One item, a traffic study of the Orchard Point/Atherley Road intersection, took up most of the time. The point of the study was to see if traffic volumes since the last study was done in 4 years ago had changed enough to meet ministry of transportation (MTO) rules regarding where traffic signals are allowed.

Orchard Point residents have been complaining for years the intersection is dangerous because of the amount of traffic on Atherley Road and poor ability to get out of their neighbourhood waiting for a break in traffic.

Ian Sugden, director of development services, explained the main source of frustration is for Orchard Point residents trying to make left hand turns onto Atherley. Staff looked at all the known development proposal in the area and included estimates for traffic in projections for subsequent years.

He said projected increased traffic by 2024 would possibly increase wait times, and certainly by 2029. He recommended in the report the City could prepare to add the lights by 2026.

Councillor Rob Kloostra wanted to know if there was an end date for the study and if the ministry of transportation (MTO) would have to do another report of their own, or would the City’s be enough justification. Sugden said they MTO did their own study in 2016. The amount of traffic at that time on Atherley Road measured against the amount of traffic from Orchard Point didn’t convince MTO engineers traffic signals were necessary.

Councillor Pat Hehn said her experience is she waits such a long time to get out into traffic she often makes a right and goes up to Creighton Street to turn around and come back into town.

Councillor Cipolla wanted to know what the price to install lights would be. Sugden did not have the figures immediately available, but said he believed it was between $150,000 and $200,000 to install traffic signals. 

Cipolla wanted to make an amendment to have staff approach developers to see if they would be willing to pay some part, all or half, of the cost. However, Mayor Steve Clarke, said he understood it still has to meet MTO criteria. Sugden added the City offered to pay 100% of the cost a few years ago but the MTO refused because the threshold for installation was not met.

Sugden also added that the cost would come from development charges, so in effect developers would be paying for the lights and the cost would not be on the property tax levy.

Mayor said there are a number of developments in the area which may move ahead and each one has to do a traffic study. He wondered if the scale of the developments and resulting traffic studies might change things more positively. Sugden said as new developments come along they will be asked to do their own traffic studies. If any of the developments are of a significant size it could change the timeline for getting lights.

Councillor Lauer wanted to know if two area businesses, Kawartha Dairy and the gas station had access to Orchard Point Road because of the added pressure of cars trying to get onto the road from those businesses added to the problems. Sugden said neither had access and there were residential lots behind those businesses. Cipolla said there was a lane from the gas station and the dairy has an easement to connect the parking lots.

Councillor David Campbell, who is the Ward 1 councillor in which the intersection is located, made an amendment to make the motion wording stronger by including the words, “strongly supports and recommends,” so the MTO sees a more urgent need.

“We can’t wait until somebody is killed at that intersection before we do something about it,” Campbell said. The amendment carried, and the main motion to receive the study and forward the improved recommendation to the MTO, and add the lights in the City’s 10-year capital plan was carried..

Other Business

The Rotary Aqua Theatre capital project tender award was pulled by staff because last week the province put in new rules regarding what types of construction qualify as work which can continue and this project does not qualify.

Another report was for a revised meeting schedule in light of the COVID-19 emergency. It was passed and the next set of meetings is April 20 starting at 4 p.m. Meetings will be televised on Rogers TV.

After a break, council continued with the regular meeting normally held a week later. AS expected it was over quickly with only the committee report, and some routine consent agenda and by-law items to deal with.


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