There is good news for people commuting in and out of Bradford West Gwillimbury — council has officially named tackling transportation and traffic congestion in town as its No. 1 priority for the next four years.
Traffic was expected to top the list, with members of council calling it the biggest issue during and immediately following this fall’s municipal election.
The town will look at implementing several 12-, 24-, and 48-month plans in council’s next four-year term, and traffic initiatives will be among the first ones, said BWG Deputy Mayor James Leduc.
“Traffic congestion has to be something we deal with very soon,” he said, suggesting traffic lights could be better sequenced and more traffic-calming measures could be put in place. “A lot of strategies we started last term are still there.”
Council agreed to work to eliminate traffic congestion in town as much as possible, as well as study how to create other access points in and out of BWG, he said.
It was “pretty easy” to put together a list of the top five priorities for the town at a Nov. 21 meeting because of the feedback members of council received during the election campaign, said BWG Mayor Rob Keffer.
Council’s top five priorities are:
- Transportation and traffic congestion
- Economic development and jobs
- Community and traffic safety
- Housing affordability and more variation in housing
- Community centre master plan
Council will now meet with senior town staff about these items, and staff will report back to council with “action items” the town can undertake and then measure how well it does, Keffer said.
Staff will present council with a plan in early 2019, which will be available for public review, said the town's CAO Geoff McKnight.
While traffic initiatives are tagged for the first year of council’s next term, affordable housing plans will likely be mid- to long-term, Leduc said.
Economic development and jobs, especially with the Highway 400 Employment Lands, ranked high on the priority list.
“That’s a huge priority for us. That’s the one I have the most passion for,” Leduc said, adding the town would also work to help existing businesses.
With the recent news of GM closing a plant in Oshawa, affecting 2,500 jobs, and Bombardier cutting 5,000 jobs earlier this month, Leduc said the Town of BWG must be active in enticing businesses to come — and stay — here.
“We’re really going to have to work hard at that. It scares me when I see GM pulling out of Oshawa. As council, we’re going to have to be really sharp,” he said. “We’re going to need a business retention plan.”
It was only five years ago the Faurecia automotive parts plant announced it would close in Bradford, eliminating about 650 jobs.
Leduc said the company left “over a four-per-cent labour cost,” so it will be important for council to find out what business’ needs are and their plans for the future.
In terms of the town’s community and traffic safety priority, Leduc said council will be looking at several initiatives, such as increasing police activity, lighting pathways, and making safer playgrounds.
“Even though we’re the No. 10 safest community (in Canada, according to a recent Macleans ranking), that’s still a priority. We want to maintain (that),” he said.
Council also wants to finalize the town’s masterplan for the Bradford and District Memorial Community Centre, Leduc said.
This will include taking stock of all the town’s landholdings to see whether other buildings can be used for local activities, with the community centre remaining as the hub, he said.
“Busy, busy four years for this council. Lots of things to get done,” he said.
Council inauguration is scheduled to take place Dec. 4 at the community centre, with the next regular meeting of council happening Dec. 18 at 7 p.m. in the Zima Room of the BWG Public Library. The public is welcome to attend all council meetings.