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Jun. 20, 2019 | Thursday
Local News
Front-Simcoe road bottleneck an accident waiting to happen, resident warns
The intersection at Front Street and Simcoe Street doesn't have any heavy-vehicle restrictions. (Dariya Baiguzhiyeva/Niagara Now)

Tour buses are a big part of NOTL’s booming summer tourism trade, but they’re also a big headache for some residents and the municipality.

For Kenneth Porter, they’re a major migraine.

Porter lives at the Front and Simcoe streets where the road takes a sharp 90-degree turn. With tour buses, regular traffic, parked vehicles and the occasional horse-drawn carriage, it gets really busy and will lead to an accident, said Porter.

“The buses come too fast. There’s too many of them,” he told The Lake Report. “It’s noisy, accidents are going to happen. I’m just very, very concerned there’s going to be an accident, real soon.”

Turning buses, which don’t have much room because there are parking spaces on both streets, also end up going over the curb and onto Porter’s property.

“It’s twice now the buses gone onto the boulevard. Those big tires have gone and ripped out my sprinkler system and broken sprinkler heads from my lawn,” he said in an interview. “Once it almost hit my fire hydrant.”

If the town removes the two last parking spots on Front Street and two last spots on Simcoe Street, it would make for an easier turn, said Porter, adding that he still doesn’t want to have buses coming down that way.

“And people are going to say, ‘Oh, you’re eliminating four spots.’ I’m eliminating an accident that is going to happen,” said Porter. 

Sometimes buses even park along Simcoe Street while dropping off people, he said.

“I really can’t believe that we’re in the year 2019 and we’re having a conversation that big buses are allowed to come into our little quaint town and race around corners.”

Porter said he is against buses coming along Simcoe, Front and up King Street into town altogether and suggested instead of driving along these streets, buses should use East West Line to travel to bus-only parking lots.

Porter said he has spoken to Coun. Norm Arsenault about the issue and he was “very good about taking the information and bringing it to council” and has “done a great job doing that.”

But Porter said he’s not letting the issue drop, no matter how long it takes or how much he has to spend.

“I want this eliminated because it’s just not good for the town,” he said. “And if it’s not eliminated, shame on the people that allowed this to happen when there’s going to be an accident.”

On Monday night, NOTL’s committee of the whole rejected a staff plan to prohibit heavy vehicles entering town based on their registered gross weight, putting up signage indicating the restriction and allowing staff to monitor the Front-Simcoe intersection to determine if parking spaces on that corner need to be removed to allow for more room for turning buses.

The negative impact of buses on the environment as well as residents’ complaints about an increasing incursion of tour buses on Front, Simcoe and Prideaux streets prompted town staff to seek solutions for the influx of heavy vehicles into the Heritage District.

Coun. Gary Burroughs questioned why the committee was “even contemplating” reducing parking spaces on the Front-Simcoe intersection as there are “big retailers” in the area. 

“People do come there and want to sit and look out over the lake from either the Oban Inn or the golf club,” he said.

Arsenault told councillors the weight-based restriction is “ideal” and said he fully supports it, but he wasn’t in favour of removing a bus stop near the Front-Simcoe intersection, across from the golf course.

“The cost of actually removing that particular space doesn’t make any sense to me,” he said. “I’m in favour of leaving that space alone because it’s a transit stop as well.”

Coun. John Wiens, who operates the NOTL Golf Club, said the businesses near Front and Simcoe streets could be put “in dire straits” if the restriction included delivery trucks because they wouldn’t be able to service his properties.

“I certainly don’t think we want to be putting businesses out of business, especially what they provide for the community,” he said.

Sheldon Randall, the town’s director of operations, replied that delivery and construction vehicles would be exempt from the restriction.

“This is just to prevent the buses from going on a cruise through the Old Town, sightseeing and just being a nuisance on the streets,” said Randall, explaining buses coming into the area for regular business or just dropping people off would still be allowed.

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