BY: SARAH FERGUSON
SPECIAL TO THE LAKE REPORT
Last fall, family doctors from the Niagara North Family Health Team announced they had chosen property beside Crossroads Public School for a two-storey medical centre.
The site backs on to Niagara Stone Road, but its entrance is expected to be from Line 2.
Included in the application are plans for a pharmacy, laboratory, optometrist, physiotherapist, medical clinic, imaging office, medical offices and professional offices.
During a public meeting about the application on Monday night, Henry Street resident Margaret Louter asked the council not to support the application unless a stop light is added at the corner of Niagara Stone Road and Line 2 Road.
She said vehicles cutting down Andres and Henry Streets is an existing issue and making left or right-hand turns at the already busy intersection of Line 2 and Niagara Stone Roads will become even “more difficult” if the development goes through.
Leigh Whyte, a representative for the developer, told councillors that the project is consistent with the policies and guidelines set out by Provincial, Regional and Town standards, and is being recommended by Town staff for approval. He noted that the application hasn’t received objections from surrounding agencies including the Niagara Region, Niagara Peninsula Conservation Authority and Canada Post
Whyte said traffic is an issue that has been addressed via a traffic study ordered by the developer, and conducted by Paradigm Transportation Solutions Ltd. in May of this year. He added the study was peer-reviewed by an independent consultant hired by the town in July.
Whyte said the peer review of the traffic study determined the intersections are forecasted to operate with “generally acceptable” levels of service, with “minimal incremental changes in terms of traffic,” and no actions are needed at this time.
The study did provide recommendations to improve the site’s layout and to improve pedestrian traffic, including sidewalks along the south side of Line 2 Road, providing bicycle parking, and removing sight-obstructing vegetation at Line 2.
Members of the District School Board of Niagara were reached for comment but no response has been received to date.
Property owner Lloyd Redekopp also spoke to council, calling the proposed medical centre a “once-in-a-lifetime opportunity” for NOTL.
He echoed Whyte’s comments about the traffic study and added a number of steps are being taken to increase safety such as adding sidewalks for pedestrian safety before he called on the council to support the application “now for the community and for future generations.”
Before they discussed the application, Bau-Coote asked fellow councillors to leave emotion out of it when they voted.
“We know about this application, there are some emotions that have gone with this application. We’ve had emails from residents both for and against. It’s an emotional topic.”
“Looking at it from a council perspective, our role is just to look at it in terms of an official plan amendment and zoning and that’s it,” she said.
She admitted to having “some concerns,” which included the corner of Line 2 and Niagara Stone Road because “it’s a very busy street.”
As the site plan moves forward, which is expected to come before the council at a committee-of-the-whole meeting on September 10, Bau-Coote said she’d like to see conversations with the developer regarding safety measures.
Coun. Betty Disero agreed it is important to promote safety, but she said the discussion surrounding the need for a crosswalk, or a light at Niagara Stone Road and Line 2 isn’t a reason to hold up an application for rezoning.
Coun. Jim Collard agreed with Disero that “holding up approval any longer would be inappropriate.”
She suggested asking the Region about upcoming developments such as the medical centre, and “working together on a traffic light.”
Mazza, who said he didn’t buy the fact that the traffic study didn’t find any issues, asked that the traffic study become available on the town’s website for the public to see.
He argued that Niagara Stone Road is very busy, adding a medical centre in the area “is not going to complement it,” but rather “make it worse.”
“Someone will die there if this thing keeps getting worse and worse at that intersection. To say there need to be no improvements to the intersection, we don’t need a crosswalk at that intersection, I am sorry, I am struggling,” he said.
“If one person dies it’s not going to be because I approved it. I didn’t approve the school going there and I am not going to approve this going forward.”
Miele said he’s conducted his own traffic study of sorts, taking a speed minder out to Niagara Stone Road on a Tuesday afternoon just before 3 p.m. when school lets out. He said he has found many drivers speed down Niagara Stone Road when the yellow lights are flashing in the school zone.
He said the only way he would consider approving the project would be with a traffic light at the intersection.