Residents of The Village in Niagara-on-the-Lake are getting the four-way stop signs they have requested.
In response to increased traffic and some concern about sight-lines for drivers, town staff had proposed in February that the solution would be to move some parking spots.
But the Village Community Association asked for time to survey the almost 300 homes they represent, and learned 82 per cent favoured a four-way-stop instead at Garrison Village Drive, Jordan Street and Perez Road, rather than changing existing parking.
“Our prime objective is safety, is always safety,” Mona Babin told councillors at Monday night’s planning committee meeting.
“In this case, the results were so skewed to one side that I’m very confident this is the right answer for the village.”
Babin said she and other VCA representatives discussed the parking recommendation with staff, Village developer John Hawley, and members of the residents’ association, keeping in mind future development, including apartment buildings now underway, a new medical centre to be built in the near future, and the expectation of a grocery store, will make the intersection even busier than it is now.
Although Babin was praised for being “proactive,” thinking ahead to stop signs when Village development has progressed, she said she believes they are needed now.
A lot of villagers like to walk, and the narrow, curved streets make the neighbourhood an appealing place to walk, she said, but lines of sight are affected by the curved streets.
The intersection is already busy, she added, with people crossing to go shopping or to The Garrison House for pickup dinners. The post office boxes are also nearby, with drivers stopping in their cars for mail, and construction is bringing more traffic.
People will have to get used to the stop signs, she told councillors, and “the sooner the better,” so that when the new construction is complete, people will already be used to stopping at the intersection.
“Several residents talk about near accidents. That intersection is one where you already have to be more careful, and will get busier,” she said. “It’s needed right now.”
Street parking is essential, with a number of homes that have only room for one car, and also helps to slow down traffic and make streets safer, “our primary objective.”
Operations manager Sheldon Randall said he would prefer to have some time to study the issue, including decisions about what metrics would be used to judge whether the stop signs are a success, before installing the signs as a pilot project.
But Lord Mayor Betty Disero jumped in and said rather than spending time studying the issue, she would like to see the stop signs approved and a bylaw in place to allow the town to move ahead with installation.
“I know this is something NOTL staff don’t like to do, but it costs us more to do a study on whether a stop sign is warranted.”
Her suggestion was to “just put in the four-way stop,” and get feedback from the community association after the fact to see how it’s working.
On a motion from Disero, councillors approved the four-way stop, asking staff to work with the community association to ensure all village residents and businesses are notified the stop sign will be installed.