Prince Edward OPP Staff Sgt. John Hatch voiced street safety concerns during last week’s committee-of-the-whole meeting.
Hatch said after being contacted by councillor Kevin Gale about some traffic concerns, he took a look into some of the collision data. He said highway safety and pedestrian safety are something both he and the residents of Prince Edward County as passionate about.
Hatch looked at all of the collision data from Prince Edward County over the last 10 years. Between 2008 and and 2017, Hatch said there have been 20 fatal collisions in the past 10 years. Of those 20, there were two collisions that involved pedestrians.
Hatch said his goal as detachment commander is to reduce that to zero.
“I looked over the 10 years and we had 569 personal injury collisions, that’s where a motor vehicle has either struck another vehicle, has struck an object, and somebody was injured, about 57 a year or one a week,” he said. “Of those 569, 17 were collisions where a pedestrian was struck.”
He said the OPP records management system allows police to take that data and overlay it onto a map. Of those 17 personal injury collisions where a pedestrian was struck, 11 happened within the boundaries of Picton. Six of those were on Picton Main Street representing about 35 per cent of the incidents, said Hatch.
When you consider the number of kilometres of travelled roadway in Prince Edward County, it’s a significant finding.
“That struck me as being a huge number,” he said. “…We have 35 per cent of those personal injury collisions on a stretch of roadway that’s about two kilometres long — that jumped out to me.”
Hatch said in his opinion, one possible solution could come through the implementation of more crossovers and crosswalks. A crossover is a designated pedestrian crossing with signs and flashing lights, such as the one outside the Regent Theatre. Crosswalks are crossings at stop signs and traffic lights. He said crossovers are generally pedestrian-initiated while crosswalks are more often controlled by traffic signals.
“In my opinion, what I think the municipality should do with council’s support is look at this and make these a priority within Prince Edward County and not just Picton, but also in places like Bloomfield and Wellington,” said Hatch. “I really believe in them and I really think it does work.”
He also noted the importance of having safe pedestrian routes. In particular, he noted the absence of a sidewalk along County Rd. 22 (Church Street) in Picton. He said a sidewalks and lights along the section of roadway would make it much safer for pedestrians who live on the heights to get to downtown Picton.
“It would be much safer for them to get from A to B,” said Hatch.
Hatch said Prince Edward OPP are fully committed to public safety and his goal is to do whatever he can to make the municipality safer.
“I truly believe we can make a difference and make Prince Edward County safer,” he said.
Gale said he contacted Hatch with three particular concerns — the safety of Picton’s Town Hill, the intersection of Union road and Church Street, and pedestrian safety from Picton to Macaulay Village.
“We had talked at Police Services also about the need for a crossover somewhere between the top of the Town Hill and the Regent Theatre,” he said.
He said because of the level of activity at the Edward Building and other businesses on the East end of Picton, it’s “almost unfair” to ask pedestrians to travel west to the Regent to cross Main Street, especially if that pedestrian is elderly or disabled.
“The Picton Town Hill we’ve talked about forever, we’ve had a couple of incidents this year,” he said.
Gale said the intersection at Church and Union has also been cause for concern after a pedestrian was struck there recently.
“I just think it’s time, we’ve talked about it, I’ve seen this conversation come up on different terms of council, but we just haven’t done anything about it,” he said.
He said pedestrians were in on Main Streets in Picton and Wellington in the recent past and, with the number of visitors coming to the county rising each year, there’s a good chance further incidents could occur if no action is taken.
“We’re going to have fatalities, so I’d like to see something come forward from staff,” he said. “I’d like to see something come sooner rather than later because we’ve been talking about it for far too long.”
Engineering, development and works commissioner Robert McAuley said Picton Main Street is considered a Connecting Link highway by the Ministry of Transportation (MTO). He said the ministry must approve any crossovers or traffic signals. Any new crossing would also come at significant cost.
In terms of the County Rd. 22 lighting and sidewalk, that project is already in the works. He said it’s combined with a reservoir feed line project that’s been designed and is in the process of being undertaken. The intersection of Union Road and Church Street is also on the radar of staff, he said.
A crossover study is already underway for Wellington and Bloomfield. McAuley expected the report to come forward to council within the next few months.
Committee took no action other than to receive Hatch’s deputation.