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Council votes to remove four-way stop in Beeton, seeks other calming options

Posted February 4, 2014

Last September, New Tecumseth council ignored the criteria (warrants) for using stop signs as a calming measure and approved as an "interim measure" a four-way stop at Main Street and Tecumseth in Beeton, to slow traffic through the core.

The four-way stop was intended to be the stop-gap until the 550 unit Sorbara subdivision is well underway, as well, the 160 unit Alliance Homes/Walton Group development, and Rayville's 104 new homes, triggering the need for traffic lights at either Main Street and Willow Drive; Lilly Street West and Bray Street; and Patterson Street/10 Sideroad and Lilly Street.

But ever since the stop sign was added to Main Street at Tecumseth, a varied list of complaints topped by the noise created by vehicles and large trucks stopping and gearing up, "24 hours a day," and the regular OPP enforcement blitzes that have handed out several tickets for failing to stop, complaints have flooded into the Town and councillors.

Last night, Ward 6 councillor Richard Norcross acknowledged the complaints and wanted council to remedy the situation by replacing the four-way immediately with traffic lights, that would be paid from current development charges.

The report prepared by Lester Lipiec, New Tecumseth's Transportation Coordinator, references the 2013 traffic master plan study which concludes the counts don't warrant traffic signalization (they also didn't warrant the four-way stop).

Beeton resident Frank Screen, who lives in the vicinity of the four-way stop, told councillors last night that he believed it was installed at the wrong intersection, and also questioned the traffic study which suggested Tecumseth Street generated a count of 1,000 vehicles over two days.

"The stop sign itself, as far as I'm concerned, is horse feathers," said Mr. Screen. "There's nothing in there to say how many vehicles travel off of Dayfoot onto Main Street, or Centre Street on to Main Street. If there should be any kind of traffic regulation, it should be Centre and Main Street. You have cars parked there, and especially we have our winter hours, and it gets dark early, and people go to the restaurants or whatever, and unfortunately people park right up to the corner, and cars coming up on to Centre Street can't see what's going on."

His preference was to remove the four-way and lower the speed limit along Main Street.

"The other side is, slow the traffic down. Take the stop sign away, slow the traffic down. You can see on rural roads 80 km/h and all of a sudden you see a couple houses and it drops down to 60. Why can't going through town be dropped down to 40 and enforce it?" he said, adding, "I've travelled pretty well all over North America, and you know there are certain places the enforcement is there, and you do not break the speed limit, because you know, they're going to get you."

Ward 8 councillor Jim Stone said he supported the traffic signals because "to calm traffic you have to get them to stop."

"I would support it because I see what they've done in Tottenham," said Mr. Stone, who elicited laughter recounting one of the reasons why traffic calming measures were required in the former village. "I remember way back, putting in a lot of stop signs, we used to have what was called the beer crowd from Beeton coming in the back way to the beer store, and we had to put a bunch of stop signs there to slow them down. They were always in a hurry; never going the other way, but coming in. I think it's a good idea for that reason. I feel sorry for the people who live nearby, I know it's a pain for some, but it might be a benefit for a lot of people."

Councillor Norcross argued the lights were going to be required in at least two years but approving them now would "provide some sort of calming measures in the downtown."

"It's only going to get worse," he said. "The stop signs at the present time are creating noise for everybody, and it's happening 24 hours a day now. Large vehicles stopping, and gearing back up, it's really having an extreme negative impact on the people living in that vicinity. By going to street lights which we've acknowledged that they're coming, and they're needed in the future, it's not a burden on the tax base, but development charges."

Ward 3 councillor Paul Whiteside said the four-way stop has generated the most complaints as an out of his ward issue.

"The four-way stops were not warranted, but we made a political decision at this table to see if that would assist. It seems to have caused a lot of problems. And we've had other people complain about the situation since they've been installed so it looks like we created another problem," he said, then moving a motion that reflected, "we made a political decision to put in a four-way stop that wasn't warranted, it's caused unnecessary problems, and until such time that it's warranted and or the stop lights, that the four way stop should be removed."

Ward 4 councillor Fran Sainsbury said they waited 10 years for traffic lights on Hwy 89 and the entrance to Green Briar because of traffic warrant requirements. She also noted there were only seven new homes built in Beeton between 2007 and 2011, "That's not growth. They (developers) haven't put anything into the coffers yet. I think it's premature."

Mayor Mike MacEachern said their decision last fall created, "an unintended consequence of causing noise issues for neighbouring residents. So if we have to remove the stop signs in order to rectify that, then that's one way to go."

"We have a report saying that we will need lights within two years so I would suggest if we put them in now, we're not depleting our tax reserves," added councillor Norcross. "I don't think the status quo will do. I just want to move it up."

Ms. Sainsbury said approving traffic lights without the warrants. is "going to set a precedent."

"And the developer's aren't there to put their money in the coffers," said said. "We're just drawing other people's money out of the coffers, even if it isn't taxation, it's DCs, and it's depleting the reserves ahead of time. Let the developer's pay when they're ready to register and take out vendor's permits."

In the end, councillors, sitting in committee, voted to remove the four-way stop. It's to be ratified at next Monday night's council meeting.

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