If anything punctuated a warranted community safety zone near a playground, it was that the children of some Midland councillors joined in as the vote was being approved.
The streets of Cook Drive and Wright Drive in Midland were approved as community safety zones and to have their maximum speed limits reduced to 40 kilometres per hour at the recent regular meeting of council.
Coun. Bill Gordon brought the notice of motion to council’s attention following concerns by residents that Cook Drive was being used, and abused, as a bypass from the heavy traffic of County Road 93. Vehicles were using the residential street of townhouses to travel between Yonge St. and Hugel Ave. with the intent of avoiding the collector road and its stop lights.
“One of the precursors (for areas that don’t qualify for traffic calming) is council can approve a community safety zone in that area,” Gordon explained, “which would effectively double the speeding fines for any police enforcement that happens to find itself on that street.”
Staff reported that the street wouldn’t match under the protocol of a community safety zone using collected data.
Executive director of environment and infrastructure Andy Campbell noted that records over the past years didn’t support the request, adding that community safety zones were primarily used in school and park areas.
“There isn’t a speed problem there, but there is the odd person that is speeding,” stated Campbell. “In the last six days, the fastest speed measured was 76 kilometres per hour for one vehicle, so there is a problem.”
He additionally offered that Wright Dr. is a parallel street to Cook Dr., pointing out that implementing traffic calming to one street should also be applied to the other.
Members of council also offered their suggestions including a streetlight program, which uses cell tower data to record metrics of a given area, the implementation of curbs and chicanes, lower speed limits and even a spring-loaded silhouette of a photo-realistic child that would pop up in the centre of the road as a shock deterrent.
Coun. Cher Cunningham addressed the well-intended but multifaceted discussion.
“It’s interesting to see this motion being thought about on the fly here; it doesn’t feel like it was quite ready for council yet,” said Cunningham, who advised against the “trauma” of a shock deterrent to distracted drivers.
When Gordon raised the point that there was a playground connected to both Cook Dr. and Wright Dr., council unified to amend Gordon’s motion for the community safety zone, as well as a speed limit reduction to 40 kilometres per hour for both streets which he said would make for “more of a staggering fine”.
As the motion was being read and readied for the vote, children of Cunningham and McGinn appeared in the virtual windows of the hybrid meeting, with several councillors in chambers smiling and waving at the small faces.
Mayor Stewart Strathearn shared a laugh but asked council to focus on town business. “Cute though, aren’t they?” he said.
Information on the town traffic calming policy as well as associated documents and data can be found on the Engaging Midland website.
Council meetings are held every third Wednesday, and can be attended in person or virtually through Zoom by contacting the clerk’s department of Midland town hall for a link to the meeting.
Council meetings can also be viewed on Rogers TV cable channel 53, or through the livestream on the Rogers TV website. Archives of council meetings are available through Rogers TV and on the Town of Midland’s YouTube channel.