Woolwich plans “no stopping” zone
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Woolwich plans “no stopping” zone

Cars will no longer be allowed to stop on a portion of Snyder Avenue in Elmira, Woolwich’s latest manoeuvre in the ongoing traffic woes around John Mahood Public School. The township has been trying to discourage traffic congestion caused as parents drop off their kids each morning. Parking prohibitions, stepped up bylaw enforcement and even greater police presence have failed to eradicate the problem.

With the addition of “no stopping” signs along the west side of Snyder Avenue, from First Street to Second Street, the goal is to eliminate unsafe conditions near the intersection of Snyder and First, township clerk Christine Broughton told councillors meeting May 1.

Stopped cars that force other drivers to swerve around them while kids are getting in and out of vehicles make for unsafe conditions, she explained.

While sympathetic with the goal, Mayor Todd Cowan argued the problem belongs to the school and the Waterloo Region District School Board, not the township. With each new measure, Woolwich is essentially letting the board off the hook, he said.

“This is really not our issue,” said Cowan, noting he and Ward 1 councillors Julie-Anne Herteis and Allan Poffenroth would be hearing from parents unhappy with the new restrictions.
“Parents, they will be ticked. We’re going to get the fury and the wrath.”

But Coun. Mark Bauman, agreeing the problem lies with the board, said the township has to put the children’s safety ahead of any other consideration.
“That safety concern trumps the inconvenience it will cause councillors,” he noted.

Herteis, who voted for the changes, predicted the “no stopping” provisions would likely just move the congestion elsewhere, as parents scramble to find a place to drop off their children near the schools.
“We’re going to get complaints on Second Street.”

Bauman pointed to a similar issue last year in St. Jacobs, where the parents were asked to drop their kids a block away from the school.

“It won’t hurt the kids to walk two extra blocks,” he said, noting parents would have to leave a couple of minutes earlier to give the kids time to walk the last bit.

A longer term solution, however, will involve action on the school board’s part. Cowan cited similar issues that used to occur at St. Teresa of Avila school, also located on First Street. When prohibition and control measures failed, the board built a kiss-and-drop location for parents and their children.

In the absence of action from the board, the township has installed “no parking” zones around the school. Last June, Woolwich council voted to close off access to a municipal parking lot adjacent to the nearby tennis courts in order to direct drivers further west on First Street to a lot at Gibson Park, where a second entrance was built to help with traffic flow. Finding that arrangement inconvenient, however, many parents continued to use prohibited areas closer to the school. Traffic and parked cars also spilled over onto nearby residential streets, raising the ire of residents, who’ve not been shy about complaining to the township.

It remains to be seen what effect the latest move will have.

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