Efforts to reduce speed and increase safety along Norfolk Street North are underway.
Norfolk County council at a Sept. 20 council-in-committee meeting voted to create a community safety zone on Norfolk Street from Fourteenth Street East for 1,000 meters south to Second Avenue West in Simcoe. Councilors also voted to enact a bylaw to create the safety zone to be in effect 24 hours a day, seven days a week.
“I travel this road frequently and it is a gateway into Norfolk County coming off of Highway 24,” Coun. Kim Huffman said. “It’s a very congested area, very busy and the speeds are astronomical, they’re ridiculous.”
Councilors were told the average speed on that stretch of road is 78 km/h, well above the 50 km/h speed limit.
“I’m not OK with that,” Huffman said, adding especially when there is a large community park, a large manufacturer, a bowling alley and funeral home among other amenities in the area.
Huffman said she wasn’t comfortable or confident in waiting for another report and introduced a resolution calling for community safety zone designation.
Huffman’s motion passed unanimously.
“This is a good first step towards reducing speed and increasing the safety for everyone including pedestrians, cyclists, residents and children,” Christine Harrop, a Simcoe resident, said. “The signs and increased fines should force motorists to slow down and change their driving habits.”
Speaking to councilors at the meeting and prior to the discussion Harrop, a Highland Avenue resident, urged them to implement traffic calming measures including speed bumps along Norfolk Street North.
“We’re faced with aggressive drivers every day including speeding, running red lights, tail-gating, vehicles weaving in and out and failing to yield,” Harrop said. “We fear for our safety and there have been too many near misses.
“We’re a community of seniors and young families who don’t feel safe walking to our local amenities.”
Harrop reminded councilors that the Norfolk Police Services Board is supporting efforts to implement traffic calming measures on Norfolk Street North.
Harrop has lived in the neighborhood since 1985 and said she and others have noticed an increase in the number of transport trucks. There is also a gravel pit on Fourteenth Street which has been approved for a second pit.
Community safety zones are considered a traffic calming measure and intended for roads where public safety is of special concern. They are often found in school zones, playgrounds, community centre, recreation areas and hospitals.
The Ontario Highway Traffic Act (HTA) gives municipal councils the authority to designate part of a highway as a community safety zone.
As well, the HTA allows for increased financial penalties for speeding to encourage motorists to slow down.
Community safety zones must be designated by a municipal bylaw to be enforceable and must identify the specific zone limits and time periods when the increased penalties are in effect.
Councilors also approved a staff recommendation to add a $300,000 capital project to the proposed 2023 budget for traffic signal upgrades and intersection improvements including left-hand turn lanes. The improvements will be addressed during the next council’s 2023 budget deliberations.