Now the waiting begins. A St. Jacobs resident, flanked by some of her neighbours, this week presented a petition to Woolwich council calling for action on a variety of traffic-related safety issues in the village. Sara Spencer got a sympathetic hearing, but the split of responsibilities between the township and the Region of Waterloo means that any action is likely to be a while in coming.
At issue is the safety of pedestrians and cyclists along a stretch of King Street south of the village. In particular, speeding cars and a lack of a sidewalk on the east side of the street makes for unsafe conditions, said Spencer, adding the situation is aggravated when vehicles park along the east side of the street opposite the Tim Hortons restaurant, despite the no parking signs.
In those instances, pedestrians and cyclists, faced with an obstacle on the shoulder and a ditch to the right, often choose to veer out closer to speeding traffic.
“King Street North, the main corridor through our village, has been and will continue to be a dangerous area for all citizens who live, work and play in St. Jacobs,” she said, calling for safety measures to be added, suggesting the addition of a sidewalk on the east side or making the shoulder more visible as a pedestrian walkway and making a greater effort to discourage parking. Also on her list are a pedestrian crosswalk to allow for safe crossing of King Street and traffic-calming measures such as traffic lights.
In speaking with township and regional officials, however, Spencer determined that there are objections to such options. Following her presentation, however, councillors instructed staff to draft a report outlining possible solutions, with Mayor Todd Cowan pledging to take the issue to regional council.
In researching options, the township is likely to speak with Tim Hortons owner Bonnie Walker, who shares some of the safety concerns. Specifically, she’d like to see street lighting in front of the restaurant, increasing safety for patrons and for her young workers who use the nearby bus stop.
“Have you been out here at night? It’s pitch dark.”
In an interview, she said she’s talked to the township about lighting, but wasn’t encouraged by the response.
“It doesn’t make sense to me – they don’t seem concerned about students. I have (teenage) girls waiting for the bus at night. Do I worry? You bet I do.”
While some of the issues may be addressed when the region reconstructs King Street, that work isn’t scheduled until 2015, director of engineering and planning Dan Kennaley told councillors.
Sidewalks would be part of that project, so there would be an advantage to pressing the region to move up the timeline for the reconstruction, he added, comparing the situation to safety concerns along a portion of Sawmill Road in Conestogo, also a regional road, where sidewalks were recently installed.