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Tuesday, July 23, 2024
Mind Your Meters: Speeding on Annmarie Drive a huge safety concern, say residents
Shannah Pumariega, left, with her husband Miguel and two sons Diego, bottom left, and Miguelito. The parents are among many who are concerned about speed. (Somer Slobodian)

Residents on Annmarie Drive in Virgil say they want to see cars slow down on the road in the neighbourhood before somebody gets seriously hurt.

Speeding in this neighbourhood started gaining attention after a resident posted on Facebook about a Domino’s Pizza driver speeding down the street intentionally. 

The driver was suspended for two weeks. However, Shannah Pumariega, a mother of two living on Annmarie Drive, said he was just one piece of a bigger problem.

“This situation is a branch of an original problem that I have been trying to fight for the last two years,” she said. 

The incident with the Dominos driver could’ve been avoided if the street had speed bumps, she said.

If more isn’t done to address speeding on Annmarie, she’s worried one of the 18 children living in the community could be hit.

“It’s not a risk any of us moms are willing to take,” she said. 

The town has done a few things to address the concerns, such as installing speed limit and safety signs on the street this year. 

Two years ago, it conducted a speeding survey along Annmarie, which reportedly showed no signs of excessive speeding.

However, some residents disagree with the survey’s conclusion and want to see more safety measures put in place — such as reducing the speed limit from 50 kilometres an hour and adding stop signs or speed bumps.

Pumariega moved to Niagara-on-the-Lake from Windsor in March 2021 with her husband and two sons after learning Niagara has an abundance of resources for children with autism. 

This was important to her since her five-and-a-half-year-old son, Miguelito, has autism. 

When she first moved in, the streets were much safer, she said.

This was important since Miguelito isn’t always aware of potential threats in his immediate surroundings, such as cars, she said.

“Annmarie Drive was blocked, it wasn’t all the way through, so the kids would play and they would enjoy it and they would run across the street,” she said. 

However, since the Paradise Grove subdivision opened up in 2021, cars can now take Paradise Grove down Annmarie to Line 2. 

“I think people are opting to take this road instead of just using Concession 4,” said Stacy Long, another resident on Annmarie Drive. 

Long said she sits on her front porch a lot and sees cars driving at “crazy” speeds.

“There’s been times where from my porch I’ve had to yell across the street at some of the other kids because they’re on their bikes,” she said. 

She noted that since cars park on the street, sometimes kids don’t see the cars – and vice versa.

“It’s always a very close call and it’s happened a few times,” she said. 

When the Paradise Grove subdivision opened up, many neighbours were nervous. 

“Our hearts would race when we see the cars go by,” said Pumariega.

She said she’s seen cars blur by going well over the speed limit.

Marah Minor, the town’s spokesperson, told The Lake Report in an email that the town conducted a seven-day traffic count on Annmarie Drive in July 2021, in response to residents’ concerns.

The majority of drivers, 85 per cent, drove 45 kilometres an hour, she wrote – below the speed limit.

With no evidence of “excessive speeding” along Annmarie Drive, the town has not considered stop signs or speed bumps in the area, she wrote.

The survey’s findings, however, don’t square with the worry the people in the neighbourhood have been carrying.

Amanda Frets, another resident of Annmarie, said in an email to The Lake Report that the community has been trying to curb speeding in the neighbourhood ever since it became a through-way street.

“We put signs out alerting others that children are playing in the area, lawn signs asking drivers to slow down, one family bought metal caution signs and put them up but still people speed on by,” she wrote.

Frets has been living on Annmarie Drive for 16 years and attended the public meetings years ago about the new development known today as Paradise Grove — and, at the time, spoke to the traffic concerns residents are seeing today.

After Paradise Grove opened to more traffic, Pumariega reached out to MPP Wayne Gates about her safety concerns, who put her in touch with a council member in June 2021, who is no longer part of council.

She spoke with the member about getting autism signs installed on the street and about other traffic solutions like speed bumps and stop signs.

Speed limit signs were put at both ends of the street in 2023, Minor wrote, along with “warning signs regarding a resident with a disability.” 

The sign reads “autistic child.”

While Pumariega is happy the sign was installed, she thought it was lacking some key essentials — like what to do in an area where there’s a child with autism.

“I thought to myself, not everybody knows how to navigate autism,” she said. 

Jessica Werner, who lives on Annmarie Drive, and Long both said the autism sign hasn’t helped reduce speeding and further measures need to be taken.  

“I already think that 50 kilometres an hour is really, really high for residential streets,” Werner said.

Long agreed, saying she guesses some people go as fast as 70 kilometres down the residential street.

“There should be a sign saying 30 in this area,” said Long. 

Meanwhile, Fret said she feels like “the only thing that will effectively work is speed humps.”

Minor said another traffic survey will be done in 2023 due to continued development and traffic in the area.

Still, residents are worried that something bad will happen before anything is done about speeding. 

“I’m just looking for people to slow down before somebody before one of the kids gets hurt,” said Werner. 

Current data doesn’t meet the requirement for the town to request more presence from the Niagara Regional Police Service, she added, but residents can report online or by calling 289-248-1060.

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