MINUTES

TRANSPORTATION COMMITTEE

REGIONAL MUNICIPALITY OF OTTAWA-CARLETON

CHAMPLAIN ROOM

18 MARCH 1998

4:30 P.M.

PRESENT

Chair: D. Holmes

Members: M. Bellemare, R. Cantin, L. Davis, C. Doucet, H. Kreling, J. Legendre,

M. McGoldrick-Larsen, M. Meilleur

REGRETS W. Byrne

 

CONFIRMATION OF MINUTES

That the Transportation Committee confirm the Minutes of the meeting of 18 February and the special meeting of 25 February and reconfirm the Minutes of the meeting of 4 February 1998, as amended.

CARRIED

REGULAR ITEMS

1. CENTRETOWN TRAFFIC CALMING PLAN AND KENT STREET TRAFFIC CALMING CONCEPT PLAN

- Director, Mobility Services and Corporate Fleet Services report dated 13 Feb 98

The Director, Mobility and Corporate Fleet Services, Doug Brousseau, presented the item. He noted the presence of the consultant, Mr. John Braaksma, of Mr. Rob Orchin from the City of Ottawa and of representatives from OC Transpo, here to answer questions from Committee members.

______________________________________________________________________________

Note: 1. Underlining indicates a new or amended recommendation approved by Committee.

2. Reports requiring Council consideration will be presented to Council on 8 April 1998 in Transportation Committee Report 5.

The following is a summary of a presentation made by Mr. Grant Malinsky, Manager, Safety and Traffic Studies Branch, Environment and Transportation, on the Centretown Traffic Calming Plan and the Kent Street Traffic Calming Concept Plan (CTCP):

Purpose: to implement policies of the City of Ottawa Official Plan (OP) re: traffic calming and policies of the Centretown Secondary Policy Plan to reduce the impact of through traffic on residential streets; to revitalize Kent Street;

Goal: to develop a program of roadway, neighbourhood and policy changes that will enhance the residential "livability" of Centretown;

Scope: the document is a Master Plan to be implemented over a number of years. It will require further detailed design and implementation planning for specific measures.

Mr. Malinsky provided a chronology of events, beginning with the City of Ottawa allocating $80,000 in 1994 for a Traffic Calming Study for Centretown and the RMOC providing $40,000 for a special study of Kent Street as part of CTCP, and culminating with the submission of the consultantís final report in Spring 1997.

Mr. Malinsky reiterated that the report is a comprehensive planning document which

Mr. Malinsky described the proposed measures that will affect regional roads, namely raised intersections at a number of locations, a number of speed "humps" on Lyon St. to discourage speeding and additional parking suggestions for both Bank and Elgin Streets. With regard to Kent Street, a three-lane alternative is being recommended. The proposal will permit landscaping by removing one lane of traffic on the east side of Kent Street; landscaping on the west side will also be permitted. Other measures include turn lanes at various intersections and all-day parking on the east side of Kent St. Mr. Malinsky said it has been suggested that permitting parking on the west side would have certain advantages for cycling and for exiting from vehicles; this suggestion could be evaluated as part of the detailed design for Kent Street.

Mr. Malinsky concluded his presentation by outlining the staff recommendations. Departmental staff presented a short video depicting travel down Kent and Lyon Streets during morning peak hours.

Speaking to the recommendations, Mr. Brousseau said the department is in general agreement with the consultantís report, but feel that consideration of any vertical measures on regional roads should be deferred pending the evaluation of a pilot project on Kirkwood Avenue.

Councillor M. Meilleur said that, while she was sympathetic to the residents of Centretown, her concern was that traffic calming measures in that area will have an impact on her community. Mr. Brousseau replied that staff have little experience in this area, however this is a concern. Another concern is that, owing to financial limitations, the plan will not be implemented all at once. He indicated that one of the consultantís proposals is that calming measures be monitored and staff will report on implementation and the effect of same on adjacent communities.

Councillor R. Cantin asked for a comment on additional peak period parking on Elgin and Bank Street, specifically, whether the concern is that additional parking on the latter will result in more traffic on Bronson Avenue. G. Malinsky said there should be no change to Bronson Avenue provided the recommendation for no peak hour parking on the two streets is approved.

Councillor H. Kreling wanted staff to clarify whether three lanes can accommodate traffic demand on Kent Street. G. Malinsky indicated that the Transportation Master Plan projects a 12-to-15% increase between now and the year 2021: if this is the magnitude of the increase, there should be no problem with three lanes, plus turn lanes and signalized intersections. The Councillor asked whether speed was a concern on Lyon Street in the same manner as on Kent St. G. Malinsky explained that the character of Kent St. is not the same as that of Lyon St., where houses are closer to the roadway.

Councillor Kreling made reference to the vast number of measures proposed and he wondered whether staff feel it is logical to introduce this many in an area. D. Brousseau indicated most the measures will be on City of Ottawa streets, and staff believe they will work. In reply to a further question from the Councillor, G. Malinsky said that, in order to function effectively, features such as speed humps have to be laid out in threes, with a certain distance between them to achieve the desired effect. He suggested this could be done as a package on Lyon Street.

Councillor L. Davis asked how soon measures could be implemented in her ward, how long staff would want to monitor these measures and whether this could be made a priority for 1998. Mr. Brousseau replied staff would need at least four seasons to monitor the impact; he added that information on similar initiatives on Riverdale Avenue will likely be available before information on Kirkwood Avenue. Councillor Davis spoke about opportunities for speed humps being put in place as part of the road resurfacing program and she requested Churchill and Merivale be done by May. She said the rationale behind this request is that if implementation of the Centretown plan is contingent upon evaluation of the proposed measures elsewhere, staff should give a clear indication when this will be done.

At the request of Councillor J. Legendre, the consultant, Mr. J. Braaksma, addressed the Committee. He spoke about the incredible amount of work done by the citizens of Centretown towards the design of the plan. He said his report is the result of nine workshops with active participation from residents of affected streets, numerous meetings with business groups and many public meetings, truly a community effort.

Councillor Legendre asked whether the business community and the residents were largely in favour of the recommendations. Mr. Braaksma indicated there are diverse opinions from certain business groups, with some in Centretown being very supportive and understanding the benefits of additional parking and improved visibility for their businesses. Other business groups in the central part of Ottawa are not as supportive since they believe traffic calming will impede their travel into the downtown core and they have concerns about accessibility. Mr. Braaksma noted no street closures are being recommended and measures are simply meant to slow traffic in residential areas.

In reply to further questions from Councillor Legendre about the scope of the work, Mr. Braaksma agreed it was considerable and the City and the Region should be commended for tackling it in this manner as opposed to using a piecemeal approach. He indicated there are similar, large scale initiatives in Europe and the United States. The Councillor wanted to know about the experience of European countries with weather conditions similar to those in Canada, specifically whether vertical measures caused problems for snow removal. Mr. Braaksma confirmed that in countries with a significant snowfall, additional work was required to ensure adequate drainage; speed humps and raised intersections need additional maintenance under winter conditions.

Councillor Legendre asked about the compatibility of speed humps with low floor buses. Mr. Braaksma replied this is an area that is still not well understood and where additional research will be required. A representative from OC Transpo, Dr. Helen Gault, indicated there are concerns from the point of view of passenger comfort and the impact of noise on acceleration and deceleration, as well as on maintenance costs for buses. Dr. Gault added that the Commission will evaluate the Kirkwood experience and provide feedback.

Councillor M. McGoldrick Larsen asked whether the Region has a policy to prioritize requests for traffic calming measures. Mr. Broussseau replied a policy is in the development process, however there is little funding available and many areas are awaiting prioritization. The Councillor asked whether there was significant speeding and whether this was perceived or real. Mr. Brousseau indicated studies show that 85% of drivers will not exceed is 60 km/h in a 50 km/h zone (most city streets). He added it was probably not unusual to see speeds over the 50 km limit in the urban area.

Councillor McGoldrick Larsen expressed the view residents of Ottawa-Carleton would want to benefit from traffic calming measures in their communities. She said she was concerned with the absence of such a policy, however she would look forward to receiving further information on this matter.

Councillor Meilleur asked whether Mr. Braaksma would comment on the effect of implementing a plan such as this on adjoining neighbourhoods. Mr. Braaksma said this depends entirely on the area: if there are alternative routes that are not calmed, there may be a shift in traffic. He added this illustrates the importance of implementing calming measures on an area-wide basis. Councillor Meilleur wanted to know what could be done if there was a negative impact. Mr. Braaksma pointed out his study did not see any alternative routes in the Centretown study, nor any spill-over into the Centretown area; if other areas are affected, additional traffic calming measures will be needed in those areas.

Councillor Cantin asked whether small diameter traffic circles had been considered as an option. Mr. Braaksma indicated this was examined but was not favoured by residents and not included in the plan. The Environment and Transportation Commissioner, M. Sheflin, said small diameter traffic circles are utilized more and more, but they are not cheap. Councillor Cantin said he felt that, given the fact staff are considering taking away one lane of traffic, a traffic circle would be the equivalent. He added his concerns with raised intersections are the vibrations caused by heavy trucks and buses, and their impact on houses that are close to the roadway.

Councillor M. Bellemare asked that staff comment on the amendments proposed by the Committee Chair, specifically the suggestion the report be approved as opposed to being received: does approval represent a pre-commitment, does it bind Council to implement each recommendation and to approve a timeline and funding. Mr. Brousseau indicated staff are not recommending the Committee approve all elements of the study, but that the report be received and that individual recommendations be considered. He added the department is not in a position to recommend approval of the entire document, as there are concerns about a number of its components.

Responding to a question from the Committee Chair, Councillor D. Holmes, Mr. Braaksma said the study identifies three types of street:

These classifications form the framework Centretown plan and differ from the standard traffic engineering classifications found in textbooks or in Official Plans. Chair Holmes asked whether the traffic calming study aims to establish a 50km/h speed on regional roads. Mr. Braaksma indicated this was correct. When asked whether he thought the proposed modifications to Kent and Lyon Streets would cause some of the traffic to shift to other streets, Mr. Braaksma replied in the negative, adding that the measures are aimed for the off-peak period and are meant only to ensure lower speeds.

A number of presentations were made by the public and the following is a summary of the comments received.

Bruce Bursey, Co-Chair, Centretown Traffic Calming Working Group provided examples of incidents where residents of Centretown were imperiled by vehicles traveling too fast on their street. During its many meetings, the Working Group sought answers to the question "what can be done to slow traffic to the posted limit" and the proposed plan is an attempt to address this. The plan does not: reduce access to any street in Centretown; close any roads; change the direction of any road; reduce the carrying capacity below regional standards; propose new traffic lights, stop signs and additional police resources. The plan proposes to change Kent Street into a three-lane, treed street, safe for people to cross; proposed changes to regional roads are aimed at non-peak hour traffic. He asked that the Committee support the proposed traffic calming plan, including the Lyon Street pilot project.

Brett Delmage, Citizens for Safe Cycling, asked that the Committee approve the plan and find the funds to implement it. A large number of trips are made by bicycle in the central core, and there is room for growth in this area in support of the objectives of the new Regional Official Plan and the Transportation Master Plan. Addressing some of the barriers to cycling will attract more cyclists and more people move to Centretown, also in support of the ROP. Citizens for Safe Cycling support the implementation of vertical calming measures; these have little impact on cyclists and only affect motorists who are speeding. Mr. Delmage proposed these go ahead concurrently with the Kirkwood study since doing both at the same time will mean staff can evaluate the projects under the same conditions and general traffic characteristics. He concluded by saying the group wants to be actively involved in the detailed design of these measures.

Catherine Boucher, Centretown Citizens Ottawa Corporation (CCOC), said she represents tenants of the a Corporation that owns over 650 housing units directly within the study area. This translates into over 1200 people of all ages with a mix of ability, including seniors, people with physical challenges and families with young children who must have safe and friendly streets. Ms. Boucher said she was pleased to see that the plan encompasses the entire area and that both levels of government are committed to implementing it. She said that, whereas more people live on Kent Street than is generally perceived, the street must become even more livable. The pressures to convert it to other uses is encouraged by heavy traffic; it must be maintained as a residential street, and the plan addresses that issue by slowing traffic down to the limits agreed to by the community. She asked that the Committee support implementation of the plan.

Peter Thorne, Member and Director of CCOC, indicated that, in common with almost every pedestrian, he has been endangered by drivers going too fast on Centretown streets. The proposed plan is a cost-effective way of encouraging pedestrian safety as well as helping with community building. He said he did not agree with the perception of certain business persons that traffic calming will negatively affect them. If people are encouraged to walk as opposed to driving they will patronize local businesses. Introducing the measures in conjunction with greening initiatives can be used as a tourism draw, something that is vital for business. Mr. Thorne urged the Committee to adopt the report as a conceptual plan that can be modified if required.

Marjory Fulton, a resident of Centretown, spoke in support of the recommendations and of proceeding with the modifications to Lyon Street. She asked that the consultative process be amended to include consultation with disabled persons. She noted that traffic calming measures are still new and there may be a lack of understanding about how these measures create environmental impediments to disabled persons.

Patricia Williams, Centretown Parentsí Day Care, said that child care workers help children to discover they are part of a neighbourhood. All pedestrians and children are at risk because in some instances, traffic runs too close to the sidewalk. She requested that traffic calming measures be provided.

Graig Layng, a resident of Centretown, expressed a certain cynicism since nothing has changed in the last 20 years. He noted that Kent and Lyon Streets have been a problem since they were attached to the Queensway and now an opportunity is being presented to address that problem. He pointed out only two regional roads need vertical measures and he suggested the Committee approve the report.

David Seaborne, President, Dalhousie Community Association, indicated he was involved with the Somerset Heights Traffic Plan; he put forward the view that traffic has to be made more civilized. He asked that measures be implemented, specifically on Kent and Lyon Street. He pointed out that Centretown residents will be disillusioned if the traffic calming plan is not approved.

Bruce Lowe, Ottawa Bicycle Club, pointed out that, as a cyclist, he enjoyed riding on calmed streets, citing the example of the bicycle lane on Stewart Street in Sandy Hill. He noted that speed humps are not a hazard to cyclists and that he looked forward to more traffic calming measures throughout the City.

David Gladstone, Chair, Planning and Development, Centretown Citizensí Community Association, said his association had been a very active proponent of, and participant in, the consultative process. He spoke about Cartier Street which has been narrowed saying it is now harder for vehicles to speed on that street. He posited there must be a continued commitment from the RMOC that traffic volumes will not increase and in order for this to happen, good Transit access is required. He requested that physical measures be put in place to ensure cars travel at the approved speed limits.

At this point, Councillor Legendre assumed the Chair.

Councillor Holmes said traffic calming is the most important issue facing residents of Centretown and one of the most important of her career. She spoke about all north/south streets having been widened in the late 1960s, thereby destroying the community. The Councillor thanked both city and regional staff for their ongoing efforts with respect to traffic calming. She posited that, although representatives from the business community are not in attendance, it would be difficult to argue with measures aimed at making vehicular traffic travel at the legal speed.

Councillor Holmes presented a number of amendments to staffís recommendations. She requested the report be approved in principle as opposed receiving it as per Recommendation 1. She asked that Recommendation 4 be deferred, noting that traffic studies are underway on both streets and dealing with this matter at this time may be premature. She proposed replacing staff Recommendation 6 by one approving a pilot project for Lyon Street in 1998 and adding two additional recommendations, one related to tree planting and the other to identifying funds for implementation during reconstruction projects.

Replying to a question of clarification from Councillor Meilleur, Mr. Ernest McArthur, Manager, Transportation and Property Law, regional Legal Department, said the report is a design proposal and approval in principle may be perceived as having prejudged the matter. Councillor Meilleur indicated she was satisfied the proposed measures will not affect adjacent communities. She noted she had similar problems she was trying to resolve and she expressed her support for the pilot project, saying she hoped it can be imported to other areas.

Councillor C. Doucet cited the example of the Glebe, where the south side of Bank Street is a vibrant, commercial area while the north side of Bank Street is a disaster zone. He said that 80% of business on Bank is generated from that area. He asked that the Committee enthusiastically support the pilot project so it can be implemented rapidly.

Councillor Cantin said he could not support approval in principle, noting that, traditionally, reports are received and actions are recommended. He posited that in order to remove traffic from some Centretown streets, more traffic will flow to Bank Street. However, the Councillor indicated he could support the pilot project and he said it will be interesting to see how things develop during the budget deliberations.

Councillor Kreling said he could see no difference between receiving the report and approving it in principle. Speaking to Councillor Holmesí proposed Recommendation 6, the Councillor said he could support it, as it was time the Region gained first-hand expertise in this area. He expressed his interest in hearing more, at the detailed design stage, about some of the alternative technologies described by the consultant and regional staff, for example pre-cast concrete speed bumps.

Councillor McGoldrick Larsen informed Committee members that she grew up in Centretown. She spoke of her experience with traffic calming while at the City of Nepean, saying the difference was that measures were usually put in place around the perimeter of residential communities. The Councillor said that, based on this experience, she was prepared to support the recommendations and move towards improving the "livability" of the community. She added she looked forward to the development of a policy that will prioritize requests for similar measures throughout the Region. She expressed the hope that, in the planning processes related to new suburban communities, problems such as those facing Centretown would be prevented from happening.

Subsequent to the presentations and comments, the Committee considered the following recommendations:

Moved by D. Holmes

That the Transportation Committee recommend Council approve:

1. that the report prepared by J. P. Braaksma and Associates, entitled Centretown Traffic Calming Plan and Kent Street Traffic Calming Concept Plan (Document 1 on file with the Regional Clerk) be approved in principle;

CARRIED

(R. Cantin dissented)

2. that, subject to technical evaluation, detailed design, and the identification of capital and operating funds, the Preferred Kent Street Traffic Calming Concept Plan as illustrated in Annex A and Figure 5.2 of the consultantís report be approved;

CARRIED

3. that, subject to technical evaluation, detailed design, and the identification of capital and operating funds, the Preferred Traffic Calming Plan as illustrated in Annex B and Figure 6.1 of the consultantís report be used as a basis for identifying traffic calming measures to be implemented in the Centretown neighbourhood, specifically on streets as detailed in Annexes B and C;

CARRIED

Moved by D. Holmes

That staff Recommendation 4 be deleted.

CARRIED

5. that the establishment of implementation priorities and assessment criteria include, where appropriate, input from area residents and local business representatives, and people with disabilities.

CARRIED as amended

That Recommendation 6 be replaced by the following:

6. That, subject to detailed design, a pilot project for Lyon Street be approved for 1998 with speed humps between Somerset and Catherine and a raised intersection at Gladstone and Lyon.

CARRIED

That the following recommendations be added:

7. Tree planting is an essential part of traffic calming and tree locations will be incorporated into the design of traffic calming measures.

CARRIED

8. Reconstruction projects proposed for streets that are on the list for traffic calming should include funds for implementation in the project budgets.

CARRIED

The Committee approved the report as amended.

2. SUSTAINABLE TRANSPORTATION

- Co-ordinator, Transportation Committee report dated 9 Feb 98

- Report entitled "State of the Debate: The Road to Sustainable Transportation in Canada"

For discussion

DEFERRED

3. TAX EXEMPT TRANSIT PASS

- Councillor D. Holmes report dated 20 Feb 98

Mike Sheflin, Environment and Transportation Commissioner indicated that Council is in favour of this initiative and has endorsed this position in the past. He supported the recommendations brought forward, but noted Recommendation 5 may cause some difficulty because this is only one request and a precedent may be set which councillors may or may not be able to meet. The Commissioner did not support Recommendation 7 because there are already a number of agencies that are supportive of this initiative and it is not necessary to provide Regional funding to a special purpose body.

Amelia Shaw, Donna-Lynn Ahee, Fiona Deller, National Task Force to Promote Employer Provided Tax Exempt Transit Passes provided a brief overview of the establishment and purpose of their group. Ms. Shaw referred to "The Cost of Unsustainable Transportation" as detailed in their brief and highlighted the various impacts including pollution, health, social equity and congestion.

Ms. Ahee stated that employer provided tax exempt transit passes are an incentive to use public transit just as free tax exempt parking is an incentive to use a car. It has been proven in the United States to increase transit use between 20% and 30%. Employees benefit from this because the cost is cheaper than using a car. She made reference to the response to this initiative from the Minister of Finance and their rebuttal to those comments as detailed in their brief.

Fiona Deller, who is also a policy analyst for the Federation of Canadian Municipalities (FCM) indicated the FCM have been involved in this initiative since 1990 and have raised this issue with Minister of Finance and in pre-budget presentations with successive Ministers of Transport and Environment. For most part their response has been very supportive except from the Minister of Finance. She indicated the FCM supports this initiative because it is environmentally-friendly. They are committed through its Standing Committees on Environment, Transportation and the 20% Club to lessening greenhouse gas emissions and encouraging the use of public transit over automobiles moves them closer to that goal. In addition, anything that increases public transit use and decreases car use, reduces wear and tear on roads which in turn reduces the cost for maintenance and upgrading. The FCM see this as an economic development initiative and have started a campaign to encourage affiliated members to support this measure. She noted there appears to be enormous support from the business community for this initiative.

Ms. Shaw stated this issue was first raised several years ago by the Canadian Urban Transit Association and the response they received from the Minister of Finance then and the response the Task Force has received more recently, are virtually identical and she was quite concerned about bureaucratic involvement and believed it was quite possible the current Minister of Finance is unaware of the growing support for this. She indicated the Task Force is well aware of the importance of including businesses and therefore have solicited interest from a variety of organizations such as Nortel, the Canadian Chamber of Commerce and Imperial Oil. They are currently meeting with Members of Parliament to generate further interest and the issue is currently a Private Members Motion. They are seeking endorsement from the Region in writing, stating their support for an employer provided tax exempt transit initiative.

With respect to Recommendation 7, Ms. Shaw explained it was not their intention to request the Region fund the National Task Force, but rather, if Council decided to create public awareness to support this initiative, while the Task Force would be appreciative of such a move, it would be the funded solely by the Region. They would also be very appreciative of anything the Region can do to create awareness on this issue and would appreciate being kept informed in this regard.

Councillor Cantin indicated his support with respect to offering bilingual services to the group. He suggested that rather than asking for a tax exemption, he preferred to see if they can create an environmental tax credit. He questioned whether staff have approached the Minister of Environment with respect such a suggestion. The Commissioner advised he has been very active in this area through the Transportation Association of Canada, and remarked that everyone in the transportation business supported this and that support went forward to the Minister of Finance. He believed the effort should be focused on the Minister and Ministry of Finance and with the reduction in the deficit, he thought it may be an opportune time for that agency to consider this again. On a personal note, he opined that it was not a positive approach to pursue this through a Private Members Motion and felt a voice coming from the Region touting the broad public support would be more effective.

Ms. Shaw believed the tax exemption would be more effective because an employee who is given a pass as opposed to a credit, would probably be more apt to use it. Councillor Cantin was concerned there was no method of ensuring the person who receives the pass is in fact the one who uses it. With respect to gaining support from the Finance Minister he believed the Region should say that if he is not interested in doing it to eliminate car use, then at least implement this initiative to improve the environment.

In response to the councillorís initial concern, Councillor Davis believed that even if the pass was given to another user, it is still helping to increase transit ridership. She looked very favourably at this initiative and suggested a fast way of getting government support would be through the Liberal Party convention.

Councillor Legendre indicated he too would be willing to assist in a bilingual capacity for the Task Force. He was somewhat surprised that many of the national organizations who support this initiative do not, as a matter of course, translate the information,and Ms. Shaw confirmed that everything from their office is translated. The councillor believed it was an opportunity for additional support from these organizations and Ms. Shaw recognized the importance of having the information in both official languages.

Councillor Doucet supported their initiative, but agreed that the Minister of Finance is very resistant to any intrusion into his tax policy. He too did not believe a Private Members bill is the best route and suggested the Task Force approach the Ministry of Transport and the Ministry of the Environment. In addition, he supported Councillor Davisí proposal to bring this initiative forward via a Liberal convention.

The Committee agreed to delete Recommendation 7. Councillors Cantin, Doucet, Legendre and McGoldrick-Larsen indicated they would be willing to meet with Members of Parliament to further this initiative along.

That Transportation Committee recommend Council approve the following:

1. That Regional Council endorses the employer provided tax-exempt transit pass;

2. That the Regional Chair, on behalf of the residents of Ottawa-Carleton, request the Federal Government to make employer provided transit passes income tax-exempt;

3. That each member of council writes their own Member of Parliament (MP), asking them to support tax-exempt employer provided transit passes;

4. That each member of council make this issue broadly available to their constituents - for example, including information in community newspapers, encouraging constituents to contact their MP;

5. That Regional Councillors support the National Task Force Promoting Employer Provided Tax-Exempt Transit Passes by providing French translation of material, one page per Councillor;

6. That Regional Council support the National Task Force Promoting Employer Provided Tax-Exempt Transit Passes by participating in upcoming meetings with Ministers of Parliament - when possible;

CARRIED as amended

4. ROADS: MINIMUM ROAD MAINTENANCE STANDARDS

- joint Environment and Transportation Commissioner and Regional Solicitor report dated 11 Mar 98

The Environment and Transportation Commissioner indicated this report is in response to a provincial initiative to introduce minimum road maintenance standards. He emphasized it is a minimum standard, but the standard staff will apply will be that approved by Council. The Solicitor confirmed that municipalities will be required to meet the minimum standard in order to avoid litigation and civil action.

The Commissioner referred to the written comments dated 18 March 1998 submitted by the Regional Cycling Advisory Group (RCAG) and agreed with the suggestion that there be an item in the submission that indicates road maintenance should be cognizant of the requirements for bicycle traffic.

Councillor Cantin was somewhat concerned about the use of "minimum" standards as this could lead a municipality, during financial hardship, not to improve some roads and in the end only leads to a poor road and an eventual rebuild of the facility. The Commissioner reminded Committee that at the last Council meeting, (Item 3 of CSEDC Report 4) staff were instructed to bring forward a list of additional expenditure reductions to offset the impact of provincial downloading. He suspected that those options might not be in the not-too-distant future if the menu of options is acted upon.

Councillor McGoldrick-Larsen was also very concerned about the province suggesting the Regionís standards are set too high and that the minimum standards they have established are reasonable and a way of cutting taxes because the standards would be reduced.

Councillor Kreling questioned whether this will create more work for staff or whether they are already carrying out similar reporting mechanisms as is proposed. The Director of Infrastructure Maintenance responded by stating the quality and detail of reports currently prepared by the Department would not meet the standard indicated by the Ministry because there is not enough staff to fulfill the proposed inspection and patrolling requirements. The councillor viewed the document as a standard and was not overly concerned with the word "minimum" because he thought what was being proposed was a method that a municipality may adopt to avoid liability arising from a civil action being brought against it as a result of something happening on a Regional road. The Solicitor indicated that the standards were created as a result of requests from municipalities to reduce liability and insurance costs from roads and he confirmed it was not to create road standards for municipalities, recognizing that those will differ from municipality to municipality.

Councillor Legendre noted that this document had not been circulated to interested groups in advance because the initial deadline set by the province did not allow for such consultation. However, in view of the recent extension of that deadline, he felt there was now time to solicit input from those wishing to comment. The Commissioner confirmed that staff do want to receive such comments, as those made by RCAG, and bring those to the attention of the province. In this regard, the councillor suggested that the report be circulated and when comments are received, the report can be resubmitted to committee for a final consideration. The Solicitor explained that when Council sets its own standards public input is encouraged; however, in this case, although comments could be invited, they should more appropriately be made directly to the province. Councillor Legendre explained that public opinion assists committee members in formulating Regional policies.

Brett Delmage, Citizens for Safe Cycling circulated copies of photographs depicting hazards that existed on Regional roads and which could lead to cycling accidents. The cause of one of the crashes was due to the accumulation of sand at the curb which is not considered debris according to the new standard and therefore would discount any legal action against the municipality for that injury. Mr. Delmage advised that Citizens for Safe Cycling do not believe the proposed standards are consistent with the successful implementation of the Regionís Official Plan because it will discourage cycling if that type of maintenance were to occur in the future. He recognized the extensive work already done with respect to pavement management and the high quality of maintenance that currently exists. Although he realized it was not the intent to lower road maintenance standards to those established by the province as minimum, he was still extremely concerned about it and was in fact quite surprised the report did not identify what the potential liabilities are. In this regard, he questioned whether this is a significant issue the Region should be concerned about in order to put this proposed policy into perspective.

Mr. Delmage related discussions he had with a representative from the Ministry, who indicated to him that it would be too big a task to develop the policy to include pedestrians, farm vehicles and bicycles although, as illustrated in his photographs, it is clear there are a number of oversights with respect to maintenance and cyclist traffic. He informed committee that the Ministry representative suggested interested groups relay their comments to them via the municipality; he had also suggested the draft report be made available to constituents and Mr. Delmage was therefore of the opinion that it was MTOís view to encourage the Region to seek public input on this policy and forward that to them.

Bruce Lowe, Ottawa Bicycle Club expressed his concern that this issue had not been brought before RCAG earlier for comment and that he did not have an opportunity to discuss it with the members of their board. He indicated that members of the Club cycle on almost every Regional road and have concerns about maintenance standards at intersections and along the roads - in the past, a number of them have had accidents as a direct result of poor maintenance at certain intersections. He would like an opportunity to discuss this further and provide some comments. The Commissioner encouraged the delegations to go directly to the province, irrespective of what the Ministry had told them

Councillor Kreling opined that although the draft document may not be readily accepted, if Council were to suggest that the Ministry increase the minimum maintenance standards, it could result in more liability issues if there is an accident on a Regional road. He suggested Council send its comments to the province on what should be included in some minimum standards and then determine how it will deal with the issue of roadway inspections.

Councillor Legendre suggested that the proposed provincial minimum maintenance standards be circulated to interested groups for comment, with the report and those comments to come back to the Committee in April. Noting the short turn-around between now and that meeting date, the councillor suggested the second meeting in April (budget) would give groups more opportunity to provide input. Other members of the committee were not receptive to that proposal and so Councillor Legendre proposed that the report come back at the first meeting next month. The Committee Chair suggested the Motion also include a request for staff to comment on the administrative level of monitoring that is being requested.

The committee briefly discussed what groups they wanted the report to be circulated to, among which were people with disabilities and walking groups. The Commissioner reminded members the comments being sought are with respect to the minimum standards being established by the province, and not those set by the Region. He agreed it was important that cyclists be covered in the document but did not know if it required a wider distribution. To alleviate this, Councillor Meilleur suggested an amendment to the Motion to include that if a councillor knows of a group or groups that should be consulted, they should forward that information to the Commissioner.

Some members did not support the Motion and in particular, Councillor Kreling was opposed to it because he believed the groups whose comments are proposed to be sought, may think it is the Regionís standards being set and this can cause confusion. He recognized this was an attempt by the province to avoid some of the ludicrous liability cases that have ended up on the backs of municipalities, but he was not convinced the Ministryís proposal will stop that. He was very concerned that the discussion by the committee appears to be about increasing the Regionís liability.

Councillor Legendre believed any confusion could be eliminated by a covering letter to those groups specifying what is before them and why. He believed Council should be telling its constituents what is being proposed and request their comments, emphasizing the fact that Council practice has been to consult with the public when trying to establish a position.

Moved by J. Legendre

That the proposed provincial minimum maintenance standards be circulated to interested groups for comment and that the report with comments come back to the Transportation Committee on 1 April 1998 and that staff report on the monitoring standards and councillors inform the Commissioner what groups they wish to see consulted.

LOST

YEAS: L. Davis, D. Holmes, J. Legendre, M. Meilleur....4

NAYS: R. Cantin, C. Doucet, H. Kreling, M. McGoldrick-Larsen....4

The Committee Chair suggested, and committee agreed, that the comments submitted by RCAG be appended to the report to Council.

Councillor Legendre believed the approach taken by the province is morally reprehensible and was visibly upset about their proposal. He expressed faith in the judicial system, stating cases of liability which are completely outrageous will be dealt with accordingly. He indicated he had no difficulty setting standards to ensure the public infrastructure is safer, however, he maintained that this provincial initiative will not benefit the public.

That Transportation Committee recommend Council:

1. Approve in principle the draft minimum road maintenance standards attached as Annex "A";

2. Advise the Ministry of Transportation that in Councilís opinion;

(a) A minimum standard for "road and bridge inspection" should be included in the standards;

(b) It is believed that the minimum standards, with subsection 284(1.4), will provide the intended liability protection for Municipalities;

(c) A Municipality may rely on subsection 284(1.4) and the minimum standards to avoid liability, even if it adopts higher standards, and;

3. Forward to the Ministry of Transportation suggestions and comments about specific standards as contained in this Report, in addition to the comments received from the Regional Cycling Advisory Group (RCAG).

CARRIED as amended

 

INFORMATION PREVIOUSLY DISTRIBUTED

1. BANK STREET AT 1800 BANK STREET - EASTBOUND LEFT-TURN

PROHIBITION

- Director, Mobility Services and Corporate Fleet Services memorandum dated 13 Feb 98

2. RED LIGHT CAMERAS (2)

- Environment and Transportation Commissioner memorandums dated 12 and 24 Feb 98

3. TRANSIT PRIORITY TASK FORCE PROGRESS REPORT

- Director, Mobility Services and Corporate Fleet Services memorandum dated 3 Mar 98

4. TRAFFIC CHANGES IMPLEMENTED UNDER THE ENVIRONMENT AND

TRANSPORTATION COMMISSIONER'S AUTHORITY (1 OCTOBER 1997 -

2 JANUARY 1998)

- Director, Mobility Services and Corporate Fleet Services memorandum dated 26 Feb 98

 

INQUIRIES

Status of Outstanding Inquiries and Reports

Councillor Legendre asked that staff place on the Committee Agenda, on a monthly basis, information relative to outstanding inquiries and reports.

March Road Reconstruction

Councillor Cantin asked that committee clarify a direction given to staff to facilitate discussions between the owners of the property adjacent to the Kanata Klassic Bowl and that facilityís operator regarding access to both properties. The councillor said he was informed there was some uncertainty on the part of the project manager in this respect, and this matter needs to be addressed prior to completion of the March Road reconstruction project.

Intersection of Innes Road and Orleans Blvd

Councillor Cantin asked that staff examine the above-cited intersection and report back to him on possible measures to assist drivers wanting to make left-hand turns onto Innes Road.

Updates

Councillor Meilleur requested updates on the traffic calming plan on Murray Street and the night time ban on truck traffic on King Edward Avenue.

King Edward Avenue

Councillor Meilleur inquired whether staff, in preparation for the appeal of the Official Plan by the King Edward Avenue Task Force, whether staff are planning to do an "origin and destination" study.

 

ADJOURNMENT

The meeting adjourned at 9:45 p.m.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

_______________________ ____________________

A/CO-ORDINATOR CHAIR