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Councillor - Town of Blue Mountains

Statement regarding Collector Roads

My name is Michael Seguin and I’m here as a Resident and Taxpayer who will live on one of these proposed Collector Roads – Peel Street North.

I must first point out to the public, that less than 30 days notice of such an important meeting in dealing with a major Official Plan Amendment is once again an example of the town’s struggle to be more transparent and have better communication with the community.

A local newspaper notice, just three days before Christmas (and in very small print by the way) and then closing down the Town hall for a week and half is, in my opinion, unacceptable and should be duly noted if an appeal is brought forth. Basically everyone has had less than two weeks to absorbed all the information and prepare for this meeting.

With regards to the “Frequently Asked Questions” that was provided on the Web Site, this was only done in response to a number of email complaints, otherwise I don’t think it would have been done at all before this meeting. I’m sure there are a number of residents, taxpayers and respected consultants that haven’t even seen this attempt by the town staff to calm the residents into believing there is nothing to fear.

What are Collector Roads?

The Town states that they are designed to collect and carry local traffic to Provincial Highways, Arterial roads and other collector roads. They have chosen 10 roads that are considered to fit that category. However, I might point out that there are a number of roads not identified, that also fit this category – like 10th Line North and Landsdown Street – so why aren’t they included? Especially Landsdown Street North, which is the location of proposed medium density townhouse development and the notorious landfill/snow dump site and heavy truck traffic in the winter time. This road is already being used as a collector road.

The Town also states that this type of road is designed for over 200 vehicles a day (now 200 vehicles per peak hour). What they don’t tell you is that they are also designed for up to 10,000 vehicles a day, speeds between 60-100 km/h and for 30% truck traffic. What they also don’t tell you, is that single detached residential lot access will be suppressed essentially “paving the way for higher density residential development”, which in my opinion is inappropriate for most of the low density neighbourhoods that already exist in areas that will be impacted by these proposed collector roads.

What is the purpose of this proposed OP with regards to collector roads?

You will note that the required width of a proposed collector road is 26 metres, where most or all local roads on the list are now 20 metres. While I understand the Town’s need to be able to request a conveyance or dedication for road purposes and collect development charges, the impact on existing property owners should draw a considerable amount of concern. Unless there is a road alignment, everyone living on these roads can expect to lose 3 metres (10 feet) off their front yard. If you have any large trees, hedges, fencing, gardens, fixtures, etc. that are situated within this 3 metre requirement, then they will all have to go.

In my own case, a 3.0 metre widening would take out my entire mature tree screening along the frontage of my property. That’s approximately 30-40 trees. These trees or screening cannot be replaced because it would impact my sewage tile bed. As a professional appraiser and very experienced in road widening projects throughout the County of Simcoe and the GTA area, I have estimated that the potential loss in value to my property including injurious affection would be in excess of $100,000 range, excluding legal and consulting costs, which I would be entitled to under the Ontario Expropriations Act. My neighbours across the road can expect to experience similar losses and I’m sure property owners in the Napier Street area will be and should be concerned as well.

They say that the 3.0 metre widenings are necessary to facilitate the safe and efficient movement of pedestrians, cyclists and vehicles – that means that everyone’s rural road will now be transformed to an urban or city road with sidewalks on both sides of the road, bike and jogging lanes (on or off the road), widened traveled lanes with curbs and gutters, turning lanes, daylighting triangles and possible traffic lights.

The Town says not to worry that timing of any road improvements is unlikely within 10 years – but I say there are no guarantees when development will occur, and if this OP Amendment is approved without appropriate planning of our neighbourhoods, then we will be faced with a rush of many inappropriate and reactive developments – like the Telfer development and the first proposal of Lora Bay Heights on Peel Street. Property owners should be aware that if they are located along a proposed collector road, then their property would be under the potential threat of expropriation and certainly prospective buyers will be turned off about buying a property that will eventually lose part of its frontage, will be situated in higher density areas and will encounter greater traffic volumes, noise and pollution.

With regards to timing, why push this OP Amendment through now? If no road improvements are to take place within 10 years, surely this attempt to provide or rush inappropriate or reactive development into the Town can wait until the $224,000 OP Review has been completed in a year’s time. Is there another hidden Agenda? If there is, the public will then know that there is a lack of transparency with this Town.

The Town says in the draft Official Plan Amendment, which is already completed and just needs signatures, that “the intent is to construct an appropriate hierarchy of roads on the existing grid network to appropriately serve the built area of Thornbury in consideration of the various travel demands including demand for local access through to demand for through travel”.

I would counter that the existing grid does appropriately serve the existing built area of Thornbury.

I would also counter that the future travel demands for unplanned or reactive rather than planned neighbourhoods have not been appropriately determined yet by this Town and that this OP Amendment is premature under the OP Review has been completed.

I want to thank the committee for listening to my comments.

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