Sackville resident disputes police claim that Pond Shore speeding is not as bad as people think

Sgt. Paul Gagné answering questions about speeding on Pond Shore Rd.

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.”

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Pond Shore speed sign showing approaching car travelling 75 km/h in 60 zone. Blind hill appears in the distance

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

Charles Bourque’s wrecked car in Facebook photo from December, 2019

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

Sign beside the inbound lane on Pond Shore Rd.

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.”

Pond Shore Rd. resident Laurie Ann Wesselby

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.”

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8 Responses to Sackville resident disputes police claim that Pond Shore speeding is not as bad as people think

  1. Sue says:

    I grew up on pond shore road . We moved off that road when I was 15 it was scary back then too.
    I think it’s even worse now though. Anytime I drove down pond shore road you are always passed
    By another vehicle. As a kid I was pushed off the road by a transport on that road.
    It’s not safe vehicles have always sped on that road and it’s alot.worse today.
    Rcmp need to spend alot.more time up there. It shouldn’t take a tragedy for something to be done.
    That’s why precautions need to happen now. People who live there should be able to walk or bike or drive down that road without incident.

  2. Jon says:

    A passing observation: was it really necessary for Sgt. Gagné to wear body armour to a Sackville town council meeting? If it’s an RCMP regulation, it seems excessive for public meetings in a small town.

  3. Dodie says:

    I live in Middle Sackville near Walker Road. I frequently hear cars and motorcycles speeding on Main Street in both directions. You can tell they are speeding because you only hear them for sometimes only 3 or 4 seconds, and often, you can hear them accelerating. There is no way they are going the speed limit.

  4. Sharon Hicks says:

    Because we live on a side-street off Mt View Rd, we travel the Pond Shore Rd on a daily basis, either heading to town or returning from there. When I approach that blind hill, from either side, I always slow down and move over closer to the shoulder of the road … because it seems there is ‘nearly always’ another vehicle coming over the crest of the hill just as I reach that point myself – and at least half the time that other vehicle will be either crowding the center line, or a little over the line. And again, it doesn’t matter from which direction I am approaching the hill.

    I’m glad to see that the town will be installing another speed radar on the southbound lane as well as the northbound one which is already there – it is long overdue!! I suspect that once the data from both devices are collected and analyzed, they will show there isn’t much difference in the speeding incidents based on direction of travel. As Laurie Ann mentioned, having a straightaway from both directions leading up to that blind hill means that a certain portion of the population is going to see it as a challenge to test how fast they can negotiate that hill.

    One day a little over a week ago, I was returning from the direction of town, and as I carefully crested the top of that blind hill, what I saw coming up the hill on the other side were 2 four-wheeler ATVs accompanied by a youth on a dirt-bike. First, they should not have been on the road, and second – they were traveling very fast and one of the ATVs had the front end in the air for as long as he was visible to me. Luckily I was driving (as usual) closer to the shoulder of the road on my side, because the center-most four-wheeler was basically riding the center line.

    From what I have seen myself, I cannot accept Sgt Gagne’s suggestion that speeding on the Pond Shore Rd is simply a case of ‘misperception’ on behalf of the residents.

    I grew up in this same neighbourhood many years ago, and I can see clearly how the traffic patterns have changed dramatically over the years. There are more houses and more people living along that stretch of road, and there is far more traffic than there was years ago, and one can foresee that this will only increase in the future.

    Those three elements combine to create a definite safety hazard, which needs to be addressed before lives are lost.

  5. Rob LeBlanc says:

    The town and the RCMP’s undue attention to Pond Shore Road — as a result of a very few, very loud, squeaky wheels — has diverted attention from where traffic enforcement is truly needed. Queens Road between Salem and Lorne is a school zone where the speed limit is currently set at 20km/h *over* the provincial norm. This stretch of road contains two schools, playgrounds, a hospital, a medical clinic, and a doctor’s office with a significant amount of senior clients. Queens between Salem and Lorne also has many homes with children in them that are *far* closer to the road than anywhere along Pond Shore.
    It’s a shame that it seems even our newer councilors are not seeing the forest for the trees on this issue. This is a town wide problem, and not isolated to a stretch of Pond Shore Rd.

    • Les Hicks says:

      Hi Rob,

      Does Queens Road have a sidewalk running beside it? How wide is Queens Road compared to Pond Shore Road?

      This “us and them” mentality serves to divide citizens rather than unite them. “Divide and conquer” is the means by which England managed to maintain control of its various colonies and their resources for several hundred years. Instead, we should all be demanding that our town council work towards providing safe conditions for motorists, pedestrians, and cyclists on ALL town roadways.

      In regards to Queens Road, I would say that a major concern there is the deplorable state of the street surface along the stretch from Main Street to Salem. Properly maintaining the streets and roads should be one of the main priorities for a municipal government. Speaking of which, why was the terrible road patching job that was recently done by a contractor allowed to go on for so long before the town employee responsible for overseeing the work finally noticed? Was there a town employee overseeing the work being done?

      Regarding Sgt. Gagne’s claim that the incidents of vehicles speeding along Pond Shore Road isn’t really as bad as local residents have been stating is laughable. I travel on Pond Shore Road regularly and have very rarely seen any evidence of the RCMP patrolling or actually setting up speed traps. It would be interesting to see the statistics on how many hours the RCMP have actually been monitoring the speeding situation there in the last year or two.

      • Rob LeBlanc says:

        Les,
        Portions of Queens on the stretch I’ve described have some sidewalk on the southern side of the street but not at all on the northern side; which is a particular problem between Main and Lorne, where on that side of the road there is a school, and a crosswalk, and a playground, and homes with children and seniors within mere metres of the roadway.
        I don’t know how wide Queens Road in the stretch I’ve described is, but I do know that it connects Highway 106 with the industrial park and that — for 365 days/year — it sees heavier and faster industrial and commercial traffic than perhaps any other residential area within the municipal limits.
        Using “us and them” discourse to point out that there has been a wild distortion of Council & the RCMP’s traffic enforcement priorities merely because of how loud “them” are seems to me to make perfect sense, IMHO.
        Rob

  6. Les Hicks says:

    Hey Rob,

    With respect, you seem to have missed my point about the divide and conquer mentality. Rather than asking for more police presence on Queens Road INSTEAD of along Pond Shore Road you and the other concerned citizens along Queens Road could be petitioning town council for more traffic control on Queens Road AS WELL as Pond Shore Road where there is also a serious speeding problem. I have no doubt that you are correct that more enforcement is required on Queens Road. I can’t speak for others, but I’m quite sure that those of us who have been taking the time and effort to express in detail our concerns about Pond Shore Road directly to town council would be happy to include concerns about Queens Road (and other problem areas) if you are unable to get enough ‘squeaky wheels’ along Queens Road together.

    At the risk of falling into the ‘us and them’ trap, regarding the industrial and commercial traffic along Queens Road, I could say that I’ll see you and raise you the numerous large dump trucks hauling material from the gravel pits on Mount View Road AND the logging trucks that use Pond Shore Road (which has NO sidewalks whatsoever). But that tit for tat is not going to get any of us what we are requesting from town council

    I don’t know the reason for the town disbanding it’s own police force years ago and contracting with the RCMP instead, but considering how stretched the RCMP’s resources are now, perhaps it’s time for the town to consider having it’s own town police force again, which would have more time to patrol the various problem traffic areas in our town. Maybe that is what we should all be petitioning town council about.

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