council has deferred for three weeks a decision on whether to leave an
emergency gate open on Victoria Street, Inverhuron, as an access during
the winter months.
Councillor Gordon Campbell brought the motion
forward last night (Jan. 13), with the intention of having the access
gate, north of Lorne Beach Road, between Upper Lorne Beach Road and
Victoria Street, opened for all passenger vehicles when Highway 21 is
closed due to winter storm conditions.
In 2007, council put in
place a policy for the emergency access to be used upon special request
from Bruce Power, to allow buses and/or emergency vehicles to transport
essential staff, during the closure of Highway 21 and Bruce County Road
23 (the B-line). There is a procedure to follow to allow the access
gate to be opened, and those openings are to be very short durations,
supervised by the South Bruce OPP as staffing permits.
committee-of-the-whole last night, council heard delegations from
Darlene Stevens, Phil Peters (on behalf of Donna Evans), and Ted Little.
said that during a severe storm in early December, her husband and many
other people put their lives at risk driving on the B-line.
stretch from Bruce County Road 15 to Lorne Beach Road has been a
dangerous road during inclement winter weather conditions," she said.
"This includes not only the workers from Bruce Power but also those in
Kincardine Township and Inverhuron who have need of emergency services
in Kincardine and those working in Kincardine living outside the area."
said the emergency access is a safer alternative. "Its intent was to
provide a safe route to and from Bruce Power," she said. "It does that,
but only for those riding the bus when the B-line is closed."
wants the road open to all vehicles in severe winter weather, from Dec.
1 to March 31, with barriers placed to prevent traffic on the B-line
from Bruce County Road 15 to Lorne Beach Road. Plus, she wants a plan
in place to notify drivers of this alternate route.
She presented council with 61 letters of support to have the emergency access opened.
asked for council to define an emergency and what would trigger having
the gate opened. "Is it the closure of Highway 21? Who initiates it? Is
the onus on Bruce Power?"
Little said he had a harrowing experience Dec. 10 driving home on the B-line when there was zero visibility at the north end.
"The B-line is schizophrenic," he said. "South of Lorne Beach Road,
it's well-behaved, but north of there, it's horrible in the winter with
He agreed drivers should have an alternate route,
through Victoria Street and Upper Lorne Beach Road. "It's time to
loosen up the policy and allow people travelling north a safer route in
Little suggested forming a committee to work
together and come up with a policy for use of that stretch of road in
Campbell said the gate could be open on a
trial basis when the roads are closed during snowstorms. "If it doesn't
work, then we discontinue it," he said.
"When we first
discussed this alternate route, we had opposition from the people
living on Victoria Street," said councillor Guy Anderson. "They wanted
it open only for Bruce Power buses and emergencies. I agree the gate
should be open for everybody because the north end of the B-line is in
bad condition during the winter."
Deputy mayor Laura Haight said
her concern is the process. "We heard loud and clear from the people of
Victoria Street that they did not want an open roadway. In March of
2007, the B-line was closed for the first time in years because of a
bad snowstorm. So we put the policy in place. I think it would be going
back on our word if we open the gate to everybody. We should contact
the people on Victoria Street and the OPP and get some input on this
Councillor Kenneth Craig agreed that the other side
of the issue needs to be heard. He suggested deferring the motion and
sending the issue to the public works committee and police services
board for comment, with information back to council by the first
meeting in February for a decision.
"I agree with a trial basis,
and allow the gate open during major storm events," said councillor
Mike Leggett, "but the residents there do not want traffic going
through there. And Victoria Street cannot handle that much traffic on a
daily basis. It's too small and windy. Give it a couple of weeks and
get some feedback from people."
Councillor Randy Roppel also
agreed to have the gate open on a trial basis as a safe alternative to
the B-line in stormy weather. However, council must keep an eye on
Victoria Street because it is not suitable to large volumes of traffic,
he said. And he wants council to lobby Bruce County and the Ontario
Ministry of Transportation to fix up their roads.
Councillor Marsha Leggett said the emergency access is not Bruce Power's road. "It's for all
employees of Bruce Power who want to ride the bus. It's an opportunity
for them to ride the bus and leave their cars at home or at work."
Ron Hewitt suggested deferring a decision for a week. "If we put this off for a
month or six weeks, and somebody gets hurt or killed, and we did
nothing, we'd be in a pretty sorry state."
Haight noted that Stevens is to make a presentation to the public works committee on Jan. 25.
Larry Kraemer said the current policy was a result of finding a way to
allow workers of Bruce Power to get to the site in bad weather. "It was
a team effort, among the municipality, public works, Bruce County, the
OPP, and Bruce Power. Each partner had input on how it would work. Mrs.
Stevens' idea of opening the gate for the winter has merit, but we
shouldn't announce it on the radio or you'll have all the Highway 21
traffic down there. We should defer this until we get input from all
the partners and see if there is a way to do this."
He added that
the municipality would have to put a lot of money into Victoria Street
before it could be used for a three-month period. As for the county, it
would be looking at $4 million to $6 million to improve the B-line and
implement winter controls.
"I say we defer this for a couple of
weeks and get the police involved about where to close the road along
the B-line," said Kraemer.
Back in council session, it was a 5-4
recorded vote in favour of deferring the issue until the Feb. 3
meeting. Those in favour were mayor Larry Kraemer, deputy mayor Laura
Haight, and councillors Kenneth Craig, Marsha Leggett and Mike Leggett.
Those opposed were councillors Ron Hewitt, Gordon Campbell, Randy
Roppel and Guy Anderson.