A crosswalk in Wellington is needed, say the residents
A motion is being put forth to the County by Councillor Jim Dunlop at the Committee of the Whole on Thursday, January 11th to ask the County for its staff to provide the procedures involved in requesting another feasibility study for a crosswalk in the village of Wellington. This comes after the tragic loss of a community member. Dunlop says that a “significant number of concerned residents” have contacted him since the accident. Just after 5:30 p.m. on November 28 Russell Armstrong was fatally injured when he tried to cross the street by the post office. Armstrong was in between two parked cars when he stepped out into the street. The driver unfortunately could not stop in time, and was not speeding. The speed limit in the village is 50km/h. Armstrong’s passing re-ignited a long-running debate on what safe driving speeds should be in the village, driven especially by those who were on scene at the accident andwho tried to help as best they could. Russell Armstrong’s kind spirit and generous nature will be missed in the community. As a nice commemoration, local café Enid Grace has named a seat in his honor.
“If you’re driving at 50km/h there is no way you will be able to stop for a child or senior citizen who steps out when they shouldn’t. It’s a part of our duty as community members to look out for those people. A traffic calming zone or lighted crosswalk is absolutely necessary,” says Wellington resident Mike Harper.
Harper’s comment is just one of a litany of concerns being brought forth by residents since Armstrong’s accident. This is not the first time the community has asked for a crosswalk in that area. A study was done over a decade ago to see if a crosswalk was needed. After a feasibility study, it was deemed that there were not enough people living in the area to make it happen. Councillor Dunlop thinks that times have significantly changed since then.
“Since the last survey, there’s been a swell of new families moving into the area. Also, we have weekly events like the market and annual events like Canada Day and Pumpkinfest that bring a lot of people into the downtown area. It’s not the same place it was. These roads were not built for cars, they were built for horse and buggies. If we can’t expand the road to modernday parameters, then we should make sure the traffic is slowed down in the congested areas,” says Dunlop.
There is also the issue of CML Snider School and how students are being picked up and dropped off. The Hastings and Prince Edward District School Board does not allow parents to drop off their children in the school parking lot due to the buses arriving at the same time. The only option is to park on the street in front of the school or in the church parking lot across Loyalist Parkway. The result is a very congested, tense situation for parents who must hop across the street Frogger-style to pick up their kids and get back to their car. When asked to comment on the need for a crosswalk, the response from Kerry Donnell, Communications Officer for HPEDSB was simple, and spoke to a common theme coming from all interested parties.
“Student safety is a top priority for Hastings and Prince Edward District School Board. We regularly work in collaboration with municipal and community partners on initiatives to support improved safety,” says Donnell.
Everyone involved in the crosswalk discussions seems to be expressing a genuine interest in the community’s safety, but no one is leading the charge with urgency. With a pedestrian fatality taking place at the precise spot where most villagers are asking for a crosswalk, how many other incidents have to happen? How many tragedies must be felt in a community, recorded and archived before the issue becomes important enough to be considered by the County? For United Church Reverend Steve Spicer, the issue affects his church in many ways.
“Our village has changed significantly over the past few years and community events like the market on Saturdays are now garnering international acclaim with the recent Royal visit. Our community is host to lot of young families, and a lot of retirees. We must find a way to fast-track this issue because it deals directly with the safety of villagers and tourists alike,” says Spicer.
This is also not the first time in recent years that issues of safety have been brought up in the village, In June of 2016, Wellington resident Maria Gacesa presented a deposition to the County’s Traffic Committee with the request of having the speed limit reduced from 50km to 30km. A difference of two minutes if you are travelling through the village.
“A pedestrian who sustains injuries from a car travelling at 30km/h has a high probability of survival, where a pedestrian struck at 50km/h has a very low probability of survival. There are not a lot of reminders of the speed limit changes when entering and exiting the village. My deposition was received, but unfortunately things have never moved past that,”says Gacesa.
Coincidentally, that summer saw the arrival of radar signs on opposite ends of the village with the speeds posted for how fast cars are travelling. Gacesa and many others found that the radars were an effective way of addressing the issue, but the radars haven’t come back. During her deposition to the traffic committee, Gacesa says that the committee did express there being some urgency behind this topic, and wanting to address the situation before a serious accident occurs. But that was two seasons ago. Dunlop’s proposal being put to council will at least get the wheels in motion towards a solution.
For anyone interested in supporting the need for a crosswalk in Wellington, petitions have been placed at the following establishments: Wellington Home Hardware, Enid Grace Café, The General, The Pharmacy and Midtown Brewing Company.