Traffic, road safety items drive agenda for Kingston City Council

Traffic on the Waaban Crossing in the early afternoon of Tuesday, Apr. 2, 2024. The introduction of a roundabout at the east end of the bridge was one of many traffic and road safety items discussed at the Kingston City Council meeting held Tuesday, May 21, 2024. Photo by Aerosnapper Kingston.

When Kingston City Council met for its meeting on the evening of Tuesday, May 21, 2024, one subject area — traffic and road safety — seemed to dominate conversation around the horseshoe.

With no fewer than three reports and one new motion speaking to traffic and road safety, Council members buckled in for two hours in which the subject came up repeatedly. Though no deputations or briefings were presented regarding traffic and road safety, when the agenda reached the reports seeking Council approval, Council put the pedal to the metal, so to speak, and quickly passed two of those items.

Councillors received for their approval two traffic-related items within Chief Administrative Officer (CAO) Lanie Hurdle’s Report 52: “Authorized Requester Agreement with the Ontario Ministry of Transportation for Statistical Collision Information” (an eight-page report from Brad Joyce, Commissioner of Infrastructure, Transportation and Emergency Service) and “Road Safety Enhancements – Various Locations” (a 19-page report also from Commissioner Joyce). Ian Semple, Director of Transportation and Transit for the City of Kingston, was named contributing to both of those reports.

Authorized requester agreement with the MTO for automatic access to collision data

The report regarding an authorized requester agreement with the Ontario Ministry of Transportation (MTO) in order for City staff to access statistical collision information from the MTO (with regard to Kingston) explained that the City’s Transportation and Transit Department maintains a database of vehicle collision statistical information “to inform decision-making with respect to transportation network safety.”

“Currently, the database is manually populated with information obtained from a review of police accident reports. This manual data entry process currently requires a significant amount of staff resources to maintain,” the report states.

Through the proposed agreement, the City of Kingston would become eligible to receive the same vehicle collision data electronically from the MTO. It would be downloaded directly into the City’s software, “a significantly more efficient and time-saving process,” according to the report.

The report goes on to explain that only one person can be the designated “authorized signatory” to the agreement and that “this individual must be one of the signatories to the agreement and must have authority to legally bind the Corporation.”

“Only the City Clerk and the Mayor have the authority to legally bind the Corporation unless Council provides authorization for delegation of authority on this matter,” the report explains.

The report then recommends that Council authorize the Director of Transportation and Transit (currently Semple) to sign the “Authorized Requester Agreement” with the MTO, “in a form satisfactory to the Director of Legal Services,” and that the Director of Transportation and Transit be delegated that authority moving forward. Finally, the report recommended Council give three readings of the bylaw necessary to allow for this delegation of authority.

This report, Clause 3 of the larger Report 52 from the CAO, was one of two clauses Council elected to separate from the other two clauses within the report for the purpose of discussion. The other clause separated was that of the report on road safety enhancements, which will be addressed later in this article.

Councillors had a handful of questions about the Authorized Requester Agreement with the MTO to obtain data on collisions, beginning with Councillor Conny Glenn. She wanted to know if the data received through the MTO would include information on collisions involving pedestrians and cyclists, as well as details around the nature of the incidents referenced. Semple indicated that the data includes information on all of those things, reiterating that the City currently has all of that data, but it has been input by hand, whereas this change will allow the data to come in automatically. This will not only reduce the hours of manual data entry, but “allow for faster analysis,” Semple explained.

Councillor Gary Oosterhof then asked why there needs to be a bylaw “for something that seems so obvious we’d share? Why do we need something so official?”

“This is a requirement from the Ministry of Transportation,” Semple responded. “So the information is provided to us by the Ministry of Transportation, and this is the mechanism that they have requested we put in place to access the information.”

Oosterhof then asked if information on the Highway 15 corridor would be included in the data received from the MTO, noting that “we have talked many times about that, and I find we get very little support for real safety issues on [Highway 15] that are lived by my constituents. And so, will this help that situation? And can we use this for a greater safety awareness for… my community… I represent along the Highway 15 corridor?”

“I am very frustrated that worse things are going to happen if we don’t get their attention,” Oosterhof said of provincial action on the safety concerns along the corridor.

Semple told Oosterhof that, while he couldn’t really speak to how City staff might be able to use the data collected to affect change, the City could certainly ask for data specific to the Highway 15 corridor once the agreement is set up.

Councillor Lisa Osanic also asked questions of City staff, including if there is a cost associated with the agreement arrangement and why this move is happening now (as opposed to earlier).

Semple responded that there is a one-time cost of $250 associated with the arrangement, and that being able to onboard the data automatically “required… a software upgrade on the city’s side.”

“So we’ve completed that upgrade in the last two months, and with that upgrade we’re now able to access the automated data. So that is why we are proceeding with this now,” he said.

With that, Mayor Bryan Paterson called the vote on the matter, which passed unanimously.

Road safety enhancements

In terms of the Road Safety Enhancements report (Clause 4 of Report 52 from the CAO), that item sought approval of amendments to two bylaws: one “to regulate parking,” the other “to regulate traffic.” The amendments were being requested “to address a variety of road safety concerns that have been identified through the City’s ‘Contact Us’ and monitoring programs,” as well as working to advance Council’s strategic priority around “building an active and connected community through improving road safety.”

The report recommended “road safety enhancements and parking regulation changes” at various locations “to address safety and traffic flow issues on streets including school zones, as well as other road safety enhancements including a U-turn movement prohibition and right-turn-on-red restriction at a planned intersection pedestrian signal.”

The report also requested the amended bylaws be given three readings at the meeting “to allow the signage associated with the proposed regulations to be installed as soon as possible.”

With regard to parking bylaw amendments, there were two sections City staff were aiming to address: school zones and “other parking by-law changes.” For school zones, changes were proposed for the areas around the following schools:

  • St. Genevieve Catholic School (Opening September 2024; 386 Holden Street)
  • Molly Brant Elementary School (30 Lyons Street)
  • W. J. Holsgrove Public School (1414 Sproule Street)
  • Elginburg Public School (2100 Unity Road)
  • Rideau Heights Public School (77 Maccauley Street)
  • École Maple Public School (529 St. Martha Street)
  • École J.R. Henderson Public School (361 Roosevelt Drive)
  • Cataraqui Woods Elementary School (1255 Birchwood Drive)
  • Lord Strathcona Public School (251 McMahon Avenue)

Other parking byBlaw changes included:

  • Implementing ‘No Parking’ on both sides of Bur Brook Road at the intersection with Jackson Mills Road (the location of a K&P Trailhead) to manage trail user parking.
  • Removing parking from one side of Kingscourt Avenue between First and Third Avenues “where the roadway width is narrower than adjacent blocks to maintain traffic flow along this roadway and Kingston Transit route.” Parking will be retained on the west side of the block “as it can accommodate more vehicles.”
  • Updating a “Parking By-Law schedule” to reflect the already existing signage indicating that parking is prohibited only on the west side of Rose Abbey Drive between Grenadier Drive and Gore Road.

Further traffic bylaw amendments included:

  • Speed limit reduction for a section of Perth Road
  • U-turn prohibition for Princess Street at Midland Avenue
  • Right-turn-on-red prohibition for Division Street at Guy Street, where “the design of a new Intersection Pedestrian Signal” is scheduled to be constructed later this year

Osanic was the first to speak to this item, asking if Council were to approve the recommendations, when the new road signs and speed limits would be implemented.

Semple responded that timing piece was the reason the report is asking for all three readings of the bylaw amendments to take place that night at the meeting. “It would proceed in the next couple of weeks,” he said.

Oosterhof then asked if the parking changes around Elginburg Public School were part of a larger initiative or something that has “got enough public input.”

“There’s a lot of cars there in the morning and at night… Removing [parking on] both sides… I’m worried that it’s a little bit harsh… [an] extreme reduction in parking.”

“So to answer your first question, yes, these changes were reviewed with the School Safety Committee that the City is a part of with the school boards,” Semple responded, noting that staff were waiting to implement the changes because the school board was making changes at the school site in terms of school bus and parent dropoffs and pickups.

Oosterhof, who said he still remained “concerned,” spoke to the Jackson Mills Road changes as well, expressing concern that parking may not be available there. Semple explained that “this is an intervention relative to a safety concern, because the vehicles are causing sightline issues and… accessibility issues for people who are coming in at the trail,” noting that parking in the area will still be available.

Mayor Paterson then called the vote on Clause 4, which passed unanimously.

Highway 15 intersection: Roundabout or traditional signals?

In the final report from CAO Hurdle (Report 54, which was asking for Council’s consideration), the sole clause of the report revolved around a report from Commissioner Joyce with input from Director Semple entitled “Updated Approach for 998 Highway 15 Intersection.” The report, stemming from Council’s direction at an earlier meeting, offered two options for the intersection in question. It is important to note that the intersection design is to be completed “as part of the development application for 988 Highway 15.”

Option one would have the applicant “design and construct a roundabout on Highway 15 based on the current right-of-way design for the corridor.”

“Staff have confirmed that the applicant can undertake this design and will incorporate the required elements as outlined in the City’s Access Control Guidelines,” the report read, noting that “high level conceptual costs estimates” undertaken for several locations along Highway 15 are approximately $1.1 million to $1.3 million, with a contribution of $375,000 from the applicant and the remainder ($725,000 to $925,000 to be funded by the City. The report noted that roundabouts have no associated annual electrical, inspection, or equipment costs.

Option two would see the applicant construct a “previously designed signalized intersection,” according to the report.

“Staff have confirmed with the applicant that the signalized intersection design is feasible and are satisfied that it incorporates the required elements for an all ages and abilities (AAA) design to integrate into the current design of Highway 15,” the report stated.

“Staff have also confirmed that the signalized intersection meets the City’s recently updated Access Control Guidelines.”

The report states that the cost associated with this option is approximately $450,000, with a $375,000 contribution from the applicant, and the remaining $75,000 to be covered by the City.

“In addition to these costs the City would be responsible for annual costs related to electricity, inspections, and equipment maintenance of approximately $3,300,” the report relayed.

“It is important to note that the City has sufficient funds to cover either option within its approved 2024 capital budget. Annual operations and maintenance costs related to snow removal, street lighting, sweeping and other related activities would be similar for both options,” the report continued.

As the item came before Council on the agenda, Mayor Paterson sought a councillor to move one of the two options in the report. After discussion, Council would then vote on the option moved. If that option carried, that would be the decision; if that option was voted down, Council would then vote on the other option, Paterson explained.

Councillor Ryan Boehme was first to act, moving option one onto the table for discussion, seconded by Osanic.

As the mover, Boehme, who represents Pittsburgh District (where much of Highway 15 runs), began the discussion. He explained the options being presented to Council had “been a long process,” the goal of which was essentially to examine the viability of a roundabout in that area. Boehme noted that the intersection in question is “very close” to the intersection at Gore Road, Highway 15, and the Waaban Crossing.

“A lot of the concern from constituents in the area was how close those two intersections are, and a large fear of it turning into ‘Gardiners Road East,’ which they do not want,” he emphasized.

Boehme went on to say that Council “should really be driving developers to choose roundabouts as a default.”

“One of the concerns is that roundabouts have a higher initial capital cost. So they do cost you more up front, but they also have lower maintenance values over time… One of the things we’ve always said as Council is capital costs [are] kind of better, [and] operating costs [are] bad because they go on into perpetuity,” the Pittsburgh councillor said.

“So I’m really hoping for Council support on this… This is where we can show leadership: we can partner with a developer, and we can make roundabouts more of a default setting,” he concluded, noting he has spoken with “multiple developers” who reported they’re looking for the City’s partnership to begin the process of making roundabouts a default.

“We really need to… provide the leadership and the impetus to start seeing more roundabouts around the city. This is a perfect candidate for it.”

Subsequent comments around the horseshoe supported Boehme’s statements. Oosterhof said he has been a proponent for roundabouts for a long time, and pointed to both the high volume of traffic in the area in question as well as complaints from “very frustrated” constituents over the traffic light systems in the city.

Councillor Paul Chaves voiced his support of the roundabout option, but asked City staff how pedestrian safety would be handled at the intersection. Semple told him that once there was a detailed design at “the conceptual level,” the City would be involved in reviewing that design, and that it would most likely involve a “pedestrian crossover.”

Examples of pedestrian crossover options for roundabouts. Graphics via US Department of Transportation’s Federal Highway Administration roundabout safety handout, 2010.

Chaves, who represents Loyalist-Cataraqui District, said he looked forward to future information about the pedestrian safety aspect of the roundabout, as he has roundabouts in his district and there are worries about pedestrian safety, particularly with students travelling to and from school.

Mayor Paterson then called the vote, which passed unanimously to see a roundabout built on Highway 15 in the near future.

New motion seeking four- and three-way stops

The final item of the night that focused on traffic and road safety came in the form of a new motion, moved by Osanic and seconded by Deputy Mayor Don Amos. The motion stated that “continued growth in Kingston is causing increased speeding and traffic on previously calm streets,” and said there were “a number of intersections” that do not meet the City’s current criteria to warrant four- or three-way stops, yet are “problematic and cause grave concerns to the citizens who reside in these neighbourhoods, as well as the drivers who must navigate them.” Noting the importance of curtailing “speeding and reckless driving in neighbourhoods,” the motion asked Council to resolve that four- and three-way stops be installed at a number of intersections.

However, before the motion was discussed by the rest of Council, Osanic moved to amend the new motion to also include a three-way stop for the intersection of Grenadier Drive and Windfield Crescent, which Mayor Paterson allowed without a vote to amend.

Beyond that, the motion sought to have four-way stops installed at the following intersections:

  • Glengarry Road at Westmoreland Road
  • Park Street at Toronto Street
  • Rideau Street at Cataraqui Street

The motion further sought to have three-way stops installed at the following intersections:

  • Humberside Drive at Ryan Court
  • Malabar Drive at Fernmoor Drive
  • Old Oak Road at Collegeview Road
  • Barrie Street at Union Street
  • Crerar Boulevard at Lakeshore Boulevard
  • Connaught Street at Third Avenue

It should be noted that the intersections listed are not all within Osanic’s and/or Amos’s districts and that, perhaps surprisingly, no one on council chose to speak to the motion besides Osanic before the vote was called. The new motion carried unanimously, meaning new four- and three-way stops will be installed at intersections across the city in the near future.

Members of the public can view the full agenda from the meeting on the City of Kingston’s City Council meetings webpage, and the meeting can be viewed in full on the Kingston City Council YouTube channel.

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