Editorial – What is safety worth?

South Dundas has a pedestrian safety problem – one that is easily solvable. The issue was highlighted again at the May 9 council meeting during a discussion of a commercial/residential development on County Road 2 in Iroquois. The development, to be built on the north side of the road, prompted concerns about pedestrians crossing to the Iroquois Village Plaza. It also pointed out valid and existing concerns for traffic crossing to the Esso/Tim Hortons.

Currently there are no crosswalks in place to help pedestrians safely cross the road. Iroquois has both the municipality’s largest employer, and the only high school, both of which contribute to an influx of pedestrians crossing the road at lunch. Given the mix of pedestrian and vehicular traffic, that no major incident has occurred yet is astonishing.

It costs approximately $15,000 to install a modern crosswalk. Some installations may be slightly higher due to curbing or existing infrastructure. At their recent meeting, council got into the weeds discussing who should pay for a crosswalk – developer Stefano Ferrente, or South Dundas. The discussion should be not if crosswalks should be installed but where else? That is the real $15,000 question. Luckily, The Leader has those answers without the added cost of hiring a consultant.

In Iroquois, additional crosswalks on Elizabeth Drive connecting the well used pathways along the water to the village’s sidewalk network; the aforementioned County Road 2 crosswalk at the Esso/Tim Hortons; and one at the intersection of County Road 2/Grove Street/Island Park Drive are all needed.

Cost considerations eliminated some of the planned crosswalks of the Morrisburg roundabout and street-scape project. The hazardous crossing of County Road 2 at St. Lawrence Street, or at Laurier Drive remain unaddressed. Nearly a decade ago, the Morrisburg waterfront committee advocated for a signaled crosswalk by the boat launch/Docksyde. A crosswalk connecting the waterfront park with the splash pad in Earl Baker Park on Cruickshank Way would safely complete a much-needed waterfront pathway connection.

In Williamsburg, walking across the intersection at County Roads 31 and 18 is perilous at best. Having a safe way to cross that busy Ottawa commuter route just makes sense. Brinston’s revitalized Matilda Memorial Park means more pedestrian and vehicular traffic. There should be a crosswalk to provide a safe option for crossing County Road 16.

That is eight crosswalks costing about $120,000. Compared to the cost of yearly fleet purchases or the capital costs spent on under-used facilities like Matilda Hall, it is not a large sum of money to improve safety.

All eight crossings mentioned should be paid for by municipal taxation because it addresses existing safety concerns. South Dundas does not have development charges to pay for future infrastructure. It should be incumbent on new development to pay for future crosswalks when that development has the potential to increase pedestrian traffic.

It always costs money for a municipality to do the right thing. South Dundas, and future developers should share that burden, and it is a burden that needs addressing.

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