Staff’s reply to the point
City councillor irked by brevity of public works report to his inquiries about various projects
A less- than- one- page staff report on a series of city engineering projects raised some questions at this week’s Timmins city council meeting.
As the document was presented for council’s review, Mayor Steve Black said in terms of actual text it was the smallest report he had ever come across at city hall. One council member said the report was inappropriate.
Normally, a staff report on any single item is two or three pages in length; sometimes a report might go up to four or five pages. The report presented Tuesday, submitted by engineering manager Pat Seguin, covered seven items and was less than a quarter of a page in size. The report also featured a very small font, requiring close scrutiny of the actual words.
The requests for information involved:
• A traffic count to measure the need for a new crosswalk by the Tim Hortons on Highway 101 in South Porcupine;
• A request on the progress of building a new sidewalk on Highway 101 between the Timmins Square property and Walmart;
• A request to study the need for a four-way stop intersection at Jaguar Drive and Sandy Falls Road
• The progress of a four-way stop for Spruce Street and Kirby Avenue;
• A study into the need for a sidewalk on Tisdale Street in South Porcupine;
• A request for the need of the traffic signal light on Waterloo Road; and
• Create a traffic loop on Mahon Lane (also known as Alma Lane).
Since most of the requests for information came from Coun. Walter Wawrzaszek, the mayor asked Wawrzaszek to offer questions or comments on the report.
“Thank you Mayor Black, I would just like to hear the responses,” said Wawrzaszek.
“I don’t believe they’re appropriate responses at this time and I’d like to hear from Mr. Seguin,” he added.
Seguin said it was a workload issue.
“I’d like to just remind council that the engineering department has lost two senior engineers and that’s what we’re working with, two senior engineers down,” Seguin explained.
“We’re managing about $16 million worth of construction work this summer, so you know we’re trying to fit these requests in, so this is the reason for the brief report,” he continued.
Seguin then went on to explain, item by item, the status of each of the council requests.
“While we had students, we conducted the (traffic) counts to keep costs down, so the crosswalk at Tim Hortons we had done the counts, and the actual crosswalk we’ve included that as part of the Connecting Link project, which we will have a report in December of 2018,” he explained.
“We just do not have the staff to do (traffic) warrants on this, at this time,” Seguin told council.
The next item was referring to the proposed sidewalk along Riverside Drive from the Timmins Square to the Walmart.
“The Walmart sidewalk has been brought up for years. That is part of the design for the 2019 phase of the Connecting Link. So again AECOM ( engineering design consultants) will be including that in their design. That was a wish of council. So that’s the timeline for that,” Seguin reported.
On the question of additional stop signs for Jaguar and Sandy Falls, Seguin said they were not needed.
“We’ve done the analysis and there’s no stop signs warranted at that location. There were two accidents that happened at that location and they were both vehicles that were speeding,” he said.
In both cases he said vehicles sped past the existing northsouth stop signs. He said icy roads were also involved.
Seguin also revealed that the concern for the Spruce Street and Kirby Avenue intersection has been resolved since council has approved that for a fourway stop.
Engineering is hoping to get the new signs installed in a matter of weeks.
He also commented on the request to create a sidewalk on Tisdale Avenue, supposedly to make it safer for children getting on and off school buses. There was a stated concern that heavy trucks driving on Tisdale posed a danger for children.
Seguin said he went out to that area of South Porcupine to check it out. He said it would be a very expensive location for a sidewalk because several utility poles would have to be moved.
“There was a lot of discussion around trucks speeding through. The fastest vehicles I saw going through there were the actual school buses that were racing around. The trucks were crawling through those intersections on the three occasions that I went out there,” said Seguin.
“I think rather than spend all this money on a sidewalk there’s opportunity I think for buses to be able to pick students up in another direction, off that main road.”
He said a new sidewalk on Tisdale would not be any safer for the children.
Seguin also spoke about the traffic signal lights on Waterloo Road at Wendy’s Restaurant. Seguin said the last traffic counts were done in 2012 and would need to be redone. He said as soon as staff was freed up from other projects, they could be assigned to do the traffic counts.
The looping of Mahon Drive, or Alma Lane, was also discussed. Seguin said anytime a new road is built, an environment review and public consultation would be required. Seguin said it would be dangerous to put in a loop road because there are poor sight lines and a hill nearby.
As council discussion was wrapping up on the various engineering projects, Wawrzaszek said he wanted to reiterate the need for a crosswalk on Highway 101 at the Tim Hortons near Northern College.
He said he drops by the restaurant at least once a day for a coffee, and he sees how difficult it is for students to cross over the multiple lanes of traffic.
“You have to be there to see how much traffic there is to see how these people have to try and get across five lanes,” he said.
Claiming a workload issue in the cityís engineering department, manager Pat Seguin submitted a smaller-than-onepage report back to city council this week with responses to a number of questions submitted by council in recent months. Seguin said the engineering department is doing its best to keep up with requests from council, but a staff shortage is having an impact. One city councillor said the report was inappropriate.