Town rethinks Chantry View Dr. reconstruction design
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.