A 26-year resident of Pond Shore Road is disputing claims by the head of the local RCMP detachment that speeding in her neighbourhood isn’t as bad as it seems.
Laurie Ann Wesselby was responding to statements by Sgt. Paul Gagné during Monday’s Sackville town council meeting.
“Visually I think it sometimes looks like people are going faster than they are,” Gagné said in response to a question about speeding on Pond Shore.
“I’m not saying there’s no speeding, I’m just saying that if somebody is going 10 over the speed limit there, it may look like to somebody there that they’re going like 20 or more.”
He added that RCMP members who patrol the area tell him, in his words, “there isn’t as much speeding as people may suggest.”
Wesselby, whose home office overlooks Pond Shore Road, strongly disagrees.
“I understand that our perception of a car driving by may appear faster,” she says.
“However, when you see cars and motorcycles literally going so fast that you can just barely see them; I sit here in my office and watch motorcyles come off the road, he’s going that fast, he’s scaling and just flies,” she adds.
Wesselby says the RCMP drive by occasionally, but rarely set up radar traps to enforce the 60 km/h speed limit or even monitor what’s happening on the road.
“I’m not saying every single car that goes by here speeds, but there is a concern, otherwise the citizens would not be bringing it up.”
Wesselby and two other residents voiced their concerns to town council in April during a meeting at which Town Engineer Dwayne Acton recommended that the town install a second radar device to tell motorists how fast they’re going and to record speed data that could be shared with the RCMP.
In an e-mail to Warktimes, Acton writes that the town hasn’t been able to install that second speed sign yet because it needs replacement parts, but once the sign is repaired, it will be placed beside the southbound lane heading into town.
More than a year ago, the town installed the first sign beside the northbound lane, but wasn’t able to retrieve speed data from it for many months.
Acton writes that after working with the manufacturer, the town can now download the information.
“However, we have not been able to evaluate the data at this time and we have not shared this information with RCMP yet, but plan to the first opportunity we get,” he adds.
High speed, hit and run
Laurie Ann Wesselby says she lives directly across Pond Shore from Charles Bourque, the victim of a high-speed collision in December 2019 that sent the elderly man to hospital suffering from severe shoulder and back injuries, cracked ribs and whiplash.
Bourque was turning left into his driveway at the crest of a blind hill when he was struck from behind by a northbound pick-up that sent his car careening off the road into a wooded area as the truck driver sped away.
Wesselby says her neighbour is still suffering from the effects of the crash.
“Even today you go out and walk and there’s still little pieces of debris around where the accident was on the road, sometimes you’ll see a little piece here and there and it shows you how hard he was hit.”
Wesselby says she was involved in a collision herself in 2000 as she came out of her driveway at the crest of the blind hill.
During Monday’s council meeting, Sgt. Gagné seemed to suggest the main problem may lie with motorists coming into town on what he called a “feeder road,” but Wesselby says excessive speeding is equally apparent in both directions.
“When you come around Silver Lake by the bridge and you’re heading up Pond Shore,” she says, “as soon as they hit that corner in this straightaway, you can hear them revving up, especially motorcycles and the cars that have the loud mufflers and you can hear the same in my office on the other side; there’s the two straightaways on either side of the blind hill.”
Wesselby suggests it’s as though some drivers are playing a game.
“It seems like it’s a straightaway and it’s like, ‘let’s rev up and we’re going to speed up and see how fast we can scale that hill.'”
Lower speed, safer road
Wesselby says the speed limit on this narrow section of Pond Shore should be lowered to 50 km/h and the RCMP should enforce it more.
She also says something needs to be done to make the road safer for pedestrians because in some places the shoulder is so narrow that people are forced to walk on the pavement beside speeding vehicles.
“You drive around town and you start looking at sidewalks,” she says “and upgrades that have happened, there’s not a whole lot past Silver Lake.”
She acknowledges that residents have the nearby TransCanada walking and bicycle trail.
“Yes, we have the bike trail, but to get to that bike trail, we still have to walk on the road,” she says, “and if you have a stroller with small kids in it, it’s pretty hard to feel safe.”
Near the end of the 18-minute phone interview, Wesselby reports on an incident she has just witnessed from her office window.
“I just watched four bicycles literally went by the house here right now and a car was passing them and one cyclist pulled right over and stopped,” she says, suggesting that the car was uncomfortably close to him.
“He pulled over and stopped and got off his bike, the others were just in front of him and I didn’t see what they did because there’s a tree,” she adds.
“That right there is a prime example,” Wesselby says.”I wish I had got a picture of it.”