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Seniors request a crosswalk

When Christine Grose’s parents moved into Chartwell Elmira residence two months ago, it quickly became clear there were safety issues for residents looking to cross the road at a heavily trafficked nearby intersection.

Now, the residents are looking for a crosswalk at Church Street West and Snyder Avenue. They’ve already taken a formal request to the Region of Waterloo. Next Tuesday, they’ll be looking for an endorsement from Woolwich council.

“Residents at Chartwell Elmira Retirement Residence are concerned for their safety, and the safety of others when crossing Church Street located just outside their home,” the residents said in a statement released by Grose, who helped get the ball rolling.

“What really prompted it is my parents moved in to Chartwell two months ago. They lived up on Park Avenue, so mum and dad – dad was in a wheelchair – were going back and forth, and we just realized, ‘wow, that’s a busy corner,’ she explained, noting that she talked to the staff at Chartwell to see if there had ever been any discussions about a crosswalk there, determining there hadn’t been.

“Seeing my parents trying to cross that busy street and then watching others cross as well, then once I started into dialogue with some of the residents there… I heard from them their concerns as well. So we just thought, ‘well, you’re not going to get if you don’t ask.’”

That prompted a letter of request from the residents at Chartwell in Elmira that was presented to the region’s planning and works committee by Woolwich Mayor Sandy Shantz.  The residents are looking for an official pedestrian crosswalk at the west intersection of Church Street and Snyder Avenue, including button-activated flashing lights and simultaneous blinking lights and signs at the top of both hills on Church Street alerting motorists to pedestrians crossing the road ahead.

The matter was referred to regional staff, which expects to have an initial report by mid-January.

Such reviews typically involve traffic counts and the timing of gaps between vehicles to determine if the likes of crosswalks, stop signs and traffic lights are warranted. Safety concerns sometimes see councils override recommendations that the measures aren’t warranted.

Shantz, who serves as Woolwich’s representative on regional council, said the matter is likely to come to council after the committee phase, adding what the Chartwell residents are asking for appears sensible.

“It’s not a real pedestrian-friendly section of road,” she said. “It seems like a reasonable request.”

Crossing the road at that location is risky and requires much patience during certain times of the day when traffic is backed up in all directions, say residents.

Eugene Read, a resident at Chartwell for the past two months, said “the trucks that come over both hills, come down fast.  I look, start to walk, and over the hill they come.”

His wife Charlotte added, “From our room window we see the school buses stop in front of the Thrift Store crossing area that tells “pedestrians yield to traffic.”  There are also kids who do not take the bus that cautiously wait for a break in traffic on their way to and from school.”

“When I walk to the arena, I go to the island in front of the Thrift Shop because the intersection at Snyder and Church streets is too dangerous.  Maybe the engineers should look at the awkward angle design of the intersection.  Cyclists have a time, too, at this corner,” said Lorne Martin, who has lived at Chartwell for nine years.

Given that Church Street is a regional road, Woolwich council can only support the residents’ position when they discuss it on Tuesday night, as regional council is the deciding body.

“They can’t OK the project, but they can certainly endorse the request that was put through by the residents,” said Grose of the planned presentation to Woolwich council.

The residents are also looking for public support, encouraging people to share their concerns about the intersection by emailing comments to Region of Waterloo traffic engineering supervisor Mike Jones at MJones@regionofwaterloo.ca. Hard copies can be dropped off at Chartwell or downtown at Read’s Decorating Centre during business hours.  The deadline for letter submission is November 30 in order to be included in a package being delivered to the region.

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