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Resident says signals needed at Big Bay Point, 20th Sideroad

Improving signs in the area 'is not solving the problem — it's just throwing good money away,' says Megan Varga
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Better signs are coming to the Big Bay Point Road and 20th Sideroad intersection, but that stop-gap measure just isn’t good enough, a local advocate told Innisfil councillors.

Megan Varga gave a deputation to council at the Sept. 27 meeting in response to a recommendation from the town’s traffic safety advisory committee. Following her presentation to that committee at its Sept. 12 meeting, members voted to improve the signage at the intersection, installing larger signs to further register with drivers.

The signs aren’t the problem, though, Varga said. It’s that the 20th Sideroad intersection is an anomaly along that road.

In the stretch of Big Bay Point Road, heading toward Friday Harbour Resort, the intersection of the 20th Sideroad is the only one that doesn’t feature an all-way stop. It creates a harrowing environment for all motorists, she said, especially the residents who use the road daily.

“The recommendation is suggesting improvements to the stop signs and the warnings about the stop signs,” she said. “This is not solving the problem — it's just throwing good money away."

Only signalization of the intersection will be sufficient to ensure all stopped motorists realize that the cross traffic will not stop, Varga suggested.

Vehicle queue along 20th Sideroad in Innisfil, waiting to move through the intersection at Big Bay Point Road. | Patrick Bales for InnisfilToday files

The traffic committee's recommendation adds the intersection into the mix to be considered in the next decade.

Of course, a lot of factors are at play when it comes to determining if stop lights go up.

Nicole Bowman, the town's director of operations, said the municipality looks at studies and various factors that are unique to each intersection when making that type of analysis.

“Signalization has been identified as warranted for that intersection and the next decision that council will need to evaluate is when to time that relative to the other intersections that have also qualified for signalization," she said. 

Ultimately, Bowman added, the decision will be a budgetary choice, as the merits of spending the money on this intersection will be weighed against others in the community.

Councillors noted, as Varga pointed out, that as early as 2017 experts retained by Friday Harbour Resort recommended signals be installed at the intersection, and that it remains one of the higher priorities for the municipality.

But there was caution that the decision won’t be made based on the number of times Varga comes before council to fight for the issue.

Rather, Mayor Lynn Dollin stressed, the town places collisions and fatalities above all when it comes to making the move.

That’s far too reactive for Varga’s liking.

“It’s not just about the accidents, it’s not just about the fatalities and we need to be proactive before it’s someone’s kid who’s in the ditch,” Varga said. “The near-misses are not captured in the data, and they are excessive.”

Varga added she isn't the only one who feels this is a pressing issue.

“I'm not just one person who wants this changed,” she said. “I have a petition with over 600 people who have signed it in the fastest that I've ever had a petition signed.”

The traffic safety advisory committee also put a recommendation to council to install a pedestrian crossing at Webster Boulevard and Prince Court. This will aim to improve pedestrian safety near a pick-up and drop-off location for Goodfellow Public School.

It was something former Ward 3 councillor Donna Orsatti fought passionately for, the current Ward 3 representative Coun. Jennifer Richardson told her colleagues.

As part of the recommendation, enhancements to existing pedestrian crossovers on Webster Boulevard and Jans Boulevard will be investigated, as well as a location review of the existing crossover on Highway 89 in Cookstown.

Construction of any enhancements will have to be funded in a future budget year.

The recommendations from the traffic committee were approved by council without discussion.