Residents of Sackville’s Pond Shore Road have suffered a big setback in their 11-year campaign to get the 60 km/h speed limit in their neighbourhood reduced to 50.
A consultant’s report from WSP Canada, that cost the town between $3,000 and $4,000, says the posted speed between Uphill Drive and Mount View Road should actually be increased to 70 km/h based on an analysis of various factors including road conditions, average speeds and traffic volume.
Town Engineer Dwayne Acton told council on Tuesday that as a result, he recommends keeping the speed at 60 and installing radar devices on both sides of the road that show drivers how fast they’re going.
He said that aside from encouraging drivers to slow down, the radar devices would also gather information on speeds that the town could share with the RCMP.
Councillor Michael Tower questioned the consultant’s conclusion and called for a lower speed limit on Pond Shore.
“We want people to get out and get walking and become active,” Tower said, “and if they go out and they’re walking on the side of the road with their kids and we continue to allow the cars to fly by, that’s still going to make life miserable for them and so, the quality of life in Sackville for them is not as high as in other residential areas.”
RCMP presence needed
“We don’t have a speed limit problem, we have a speeding problem,” said Councillor Bill Evans.
“I would urge that this motion also ask that the RCMP to spend a little more time enforcing the speed limit in that area because I think that’s what’s causing the problem, not people going 60, but people speeding,” Evans added.
“That’s what we have to address and I don’t think we’ll address that by changing the speed limit.”
Acting Mayor Ron Aiken, who lives on Uphill Drive, said the consultant’s report did not take the 12 school bus stops on Pond Shore Road into account.
He also questioned where the consultant placed the three radar devices that recorded speeds and traffic volumes.
Aiken noted that the first device, near Church Street, couldn’t capture all the data because of the curve on the lower part of Pond Shore Road.
“There’s no information on the problem area,” he said. “The problem area is after Uphill Drive until you get [to] just before Mount View Road and their two [other] detecting machines are nowhere near there.”
Aiken suggested that one solution could be to install radar camera devices that would photograph speeders’ licence plates so that tickets could be sent to offenders.
But he noted that although the town would have to pay to install the devices, any speeding fine revenues would go to the province.
Residents voice concerns
During the public question period after Tuesday’s meeting, resident Don Gouthro said the consultant should have talked to Pond Shore residents about their own safety concerns as well as the safety of others who jog or cycle in the area.
“We’re very concerned as a neighbourhood that something tragic is going to happen on this road,” he said.
Gouthro added that before recent spring weight restrictions took effect, dozens of tandem trucks fully loaded with logs were coming over the hill every day.
He also noted that there are no signs indicating school bus stops and that blind hill signs were removed several years ago.
“Instead of hiring an outside firm, why doesn’t the town itself take it upon themselves to do the study of Pond Shore and come to their own conclusions?” he asked.
Laurie Ann Wesselby said she has lived for 26 years on the blind hill across the road from an elderly neighbour who suffered severe injuries in a high-speed, hit-and-run collision in December 2019.
She added that after that crash, the RCMP were very visible in the area, but that visibility ended after a couple of weeks.
“My office window is facing the road and just during this meeting alone, I counted over 100 cars in the last hour and 15 minutes,” she noted and asked whether the town was considering safety improvements such as installing sidewalks and better street lighting.
The town engineer responded that there is no immediate plan for sidewalks on Pond Shore, but that the adequacy of lighting and signage in the area could be evaluated.
Adam Campbell said he had young children when he first moved to the neighbourhood nine years ago.
“At the time, we didn’t feel safe walking the road with a stroller, so we would load the kids and stroller into the truck and drive to a safer spot to walk,” he said.
Now that the children are a little older, they like to bike, Campbell added.
“We do the same thing, we load four bikes and four people into my truck to drive down to the trail at the lake,” he said.
“The reason we do that is because of safety concerns.”
Campbell said he’d feel a lot safer, if council would ask the RCMP to step up enforcement on a stretch of road that has a blind corner at one end and a blind hill at the other.
“I can drop a note to the RCMP and ask them to step up enforcement up there,” Acting Mayor Aiken replied.