This story has been updated to include new information from the Region.
Niagara-on-the-Lake councillors are demanding change after Thursday saw the 29th car accident in five years at the intersection of Line 3 and Four Mile Creek roads in Virgil.
The crash occurred around 3:20 p.m. and left two people in hospital in critical condition.
Another crash occurred at the intersection March 21, and a young man has been killed in the same spot.
Coun. Terry Flynn said the town has appealed to the Niagara Region about doing something many times — as recently as February.
The challenge for council, he said, is that Line 3 and Four Mile Creek are both regional roads.
“The Region comes back and says the intersection doesn’t meet the warrants for a four-way stop,” Flynn said.
The town rejected the Region’s decision and fought to get flashing lights put up, as well as a sign warning drivers that cross traffic doesn’t stop, he said.
“But that clearly hasn’t worked.”
“It’s to the point now that I’m seriously seriously concerned about this intersection and something has to happen.”
He said he wants the Region to make solving the problem a top priority.
“We’re talking about Hwy. 55 and Thorold Stone Rd. and improvements there, we talk about Line 2 and 55, we talk about trying to slow traffic down in St. Davids, but Line 3 is, as far as as I’m concerned, priority one right now … because this can’t keep happening.”
Flynn, who doubles as superintendent of operations for Niagara Emergency Medical Services, said it’s not only stressful for the town to have their hands tied, it’s also tough for responders to keep hearing about accidents that could be prevented and wondering who the victim might be.
“We know everybody in town, so the first thing we’re always asking is, ‘is it one of our locals?’”
He said the solution to the problem isn’t entirely clear yet, though there’s a definite pattern.
“What’s interesting is people are stopping and proceeding, which doesn’t make sense to me … I don’t know if they’re not paying attention, or if Google is telling them to go straight through and they’re not thinking. I don’t know.”
“For some reason Line 3 seems to just be a bad road.”
He said one possible solution would be a four-way stop.
“Is it going to impede the flow of traffic and make it a little more inconvenient? Yes. But I would rather save lives than have somebody get to their destination a minute earlier.”
Coun. Martin Mazza echoed a similar sentiment that he would like the Region to make the intersection a priority.
“How many more lives have to be lost at that corner?” he said, during a phone interview Thursday night.
“I thought that was enough for something to happen, but clearly it wasn’t.”
He said the town had to fight the Region “tooth-and-nail” just to have the flashing light installed above the stop sign.
He also pointed out that more and more people are using the road.
“Ever since we extended Conc. 4 from Line 2 to Line 3, locals are taking that stretch of road … so that’s even more of an important intersection now.”
Mazza said it made him sick to see the Ornge helicopter fly by his shop today.
He was on the phone with the town’s chief administrative officer Holly Dowd at the time.
“I lost sight of the helicopter as it disappeared behind the Meridian Credit Union, and I told Holly, I said, ‘oh my god, there’s an Ornge helicopter flying over our heads right now.’”
His frustration was evident as he explained the call.
“Obviously there’s a problem,” said Mazza. “So let’s do something.”
On top of public safety, he pointed out that repeated preventable collisions comes with a significant cost to taxpayers.
The entire incident Thursday saw response from multiple emergency vehicles and an Ornge rescue helicopter.
“And people are blaming human error and not paying attention… I don’t care who’s to blame anymore, let’s just fix it.”
Coun. Paolo Miele, who live streamed the event on Facebook, can be heard in the video saying: “Can you imagine that was a school bus that was involved in an accident?”
Mazza hopes the Region will rethink whether this intersection warrants a stop light or not.
“For crying out loud,” said Mazza.
“It’s a no brainer.”
Carmen D'Angelo, chief administrative officer for the Region, said he asked the public works committee to escalate a review of the intersection which was already in process after the latest accident.
“We're going to take a detailed review of (the intersection) and we're going to bring options to our next public works committee,” he said.
“That intersection doesn't warrant that high number of motor vehicle collisions, so because there's a frequency we have to take a serious look at it.” he said.
Options are expected to be presented to regional council for adoption May 1.
“That's as fast as we can push it through the system.”