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Woolwich backs seniors’ bid for crosswalk at Church St.

The bid by residents of an Elmira retirement venue to have the region install a crosswalk at Church Street West and Snyder Avenue got a boost this week thanks to an endorsement from Woolwich council.

Meeting by videoconference Tuesday night, councillors not only backed the request of the group at Chartwell Elmira Retirement Residence, but vowed to press the point home.

“This has been around for a long time,” said Coun. Murray Martin, noting the township should do more than send a resolution. “We need to talk to somebody that will deal with the situation.”

“We should try to support this any way we can. I agree with Coun. Martin that this has been going on for quite a while,” added Coun. Larry Shantz. “I think we should try to get some teeth put into it and see if we can get something done.”

In November, Mayor Sandy Shantz took the residents’ letter to the Region of Waterloo, which has jurisdiction because Church Street is a regional road.  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 request is currently under review, said Mike Jones, the region’s supervisor of traffic engineering, noting the analysis involves the warrant methodology as set out by the province.

“Staff is currently assessing the need for additional control to assist all modes of travel including pedestrians crossing Church Street at and near Snyder Avenue. Our review is focusing on the need for pedestrian traffic control signals, full traffic control signals or a level 2 pedestrian crosswalk,” he said in an email. “The criteria used to establish the need for additional traffic control includes collision history, vehicular  and pedestrian volumes and a detailed assessment of the roadway characteristics.

“For pedestrian control, generally there must be a minimum of 100 pedestrians crossing the main road.  Staff will be assessing the need for additional control within the coming months and should be in a position early in 2022 to recommend action should any additional control be warranted. Should additional control be warranted staff will arrange for the installation sometime in 2022.”

The region’s warrant studies are a source of concern, however, for Coun. Patrick Merlihan, who has been involved with a regional committee looking at crosswalks as part of future reconstruction of stretches of Church street east and west of Arthur Street.

“I don’t think their warrants warrant crosswalks anywhere in Woolwich Township,” he said.

“We do need to do something stronger than a resolution,” he said, noting the region has a history of dragging its feet on such requests, citing the 12-year battle of former councillor Mark Bauman to get a crosswalk at the St. Jacobs Farmers’ Market

“That solved the problem. The crosswalk solved the problem, and it took 12 years of convincing … the council to act on that. I think we’re going to need regional council to back us on other crosswalks,” he said, arguing for a crossing across from Bolender Park on the other end of Church Street.

“We should be in the business of fixing problems. This is a problem I think is fixable, we just need the region to work with us.”

With the crosswalk request under review, Mayor Shantz suggested the township wait for a report before deciding the next course of action.

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