Town re­thinks Chantry View Dr. re­con­struc­tion de­sign

Shoreline Beacon - - Opinion -

It is back to the draw­ing board for Saugeen Shores staff de­sign­ing the re­con­struc­tion of Chantry View Rd. in Southamp­ton - a project seen by many res­i­dents as a wor­ry­ing bell­wether of the Town’s carfirst ap­proach to roads.

Although Town Coun­cil ap­proved con­struc­tion fund­ing for this year, the many con­cerns about road width safety and area aes­thet­ics raised by res­i­dents at an Au­gust open house, prompted Town staff to rec­om­mend post­pon­ing the project un­til spring. That would al­low for more con­sul­ta­tion with coun­cil­lors - but not the public about cy­cling-friendly el­e­ments, and hope­fully lead to cheaper con­struc­tion costs.

Dur­ing dis­cus­sion at the Sept. 25 Saugeen Shores com­mit­tee of the whole, Amanda Froese, the Town’s Di­rec­tor of Public Works and Engi­neer­ing, cau­tioned that an 8.5-me­tre road width will still be one of the al­ter­nate op­tions from staff. While the cur­rent width of Chantry View varies, most of it is 7.5-me­tres wide, and the orig­i­nal staff pro­posal called for 8.5-me­tres by adding a half-me­tre on ei­ther side. Town CAo David Smith also clar­i­fied that the cur­rent 7.5-me­tre width would be in­cluded in the op­tions for coun­cil­lors to con­sider.

Southamp­ton Coun. Cheryl Grace, who said she read/heard all 150 com­ments from peo­ple at the open house, said it is clear most want a nar­rower road­way width to pro­tect and pre­serve the her­itage char­ac­ter of the area that in­cludes a ma­jor route to the beach for pedes­tri­ans and cy­clists.

“Peo­ple see this project as a bell­wether of how Southamp­ton, and some of the her­itage ar­eas of our municipality, will be de­vel­oped,” Grace said, adding sig­nif­i­cant num­ber of com­ments called for re­ten­tion of “the his­toric, tourist-ori­ented wa­ter­front com­mu­nity char­ac­ter of Southamp­ton that in­cludes the streetscape.”

Grace said widening the road to sub­ur­ban stan­dards with more asphalt and con­crete “goes against” the Town’s Of­fi­cial Plan vi­sion of her­itage pro­tec­tion and preser­va­tion - in­te­gral parts of the plan that sup­port tourism and eco­nomic de­vel­op­ment.

“Peo­ple choose to in­vest in Southamp­ton or in Port El­gin, or Saugeen Town­ship com­mu­ni­ties ei­ther as res­i­dents of tourists they go there be­cause they love its charm­ing am­biance. They don’t go there be­cause it looks like sub­ur­bia,” Grace said.

She pointed to a study by a for­mer se­nior trans­porta­tion plan­ner with the City of Toronto who cited 88 sources and stud­ies in his re­port show­ing that “wider lanes (over 3.4-me­tres ) are as­so­ci­ated with 33 per cent high im­pact speed rates and higher crash rates [and] nar­rower lanes in ur­ban ar­eas re­sult in less ag­gres­sive driv­ing ” Grace re­counted. She said her sup­port for the re­design is con­tin­gent on the un­der­stand­ing and as­sur­ance the road will not be widened, there will be more public con­sul­ta­tion, and ev­ery ef­fort will be made to pre­serve ex­ist­ing veg­e­ta­tion and res­i­dents’ prop­erty frontages.

“Chantry View is an in­di­vid­ual project but I be­lieve it is a har­bin­ger of how we han­dle out fu­ture roads de­vel­op­ment in this town,” Grace said, adding she was glad road re­con­struc­tion is­sues would be stud­ied in an up­com­ing storm wa­ter plan and a trans­porta­tion plan that will in­cor­po­rate cy­clingfriendly el­e­ments.

In a no­tice of the ear­lier open house, Southamp­ton Res­i­dents As­so­ci­a­tion Pres­i­dent Jim Henning said many res­i­dents were sur­prised in re­cent years when Ade­laide St. was widened, repaved, curbed and pushed through east­ward to the high­way, and when Bay St. was widened, repaved and curbed from McNabb to the lake.

“It is well es­tab­lished that wider roads lead to faster ve­hi­cle speeds. Hence many res­i­dents of this en­tire area would pre­fer that these streets re­main unim­proved so that they con­tinue to be pedes­trian and bi­cy­cle ori­ented,” he said.

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