Prince Edward County Council adopted recommendations from the Agricultural Advisory Committee (AAC) by way of a report stemming from their October 19, 2020 meeting. The report identified the interaction between vehicular traffic and agricultural equipment on county roads as a safety concern and suggested better signage might remedy the situation.
The report and recommendations were accepted as presented in a Prinzen/Forrester motion.
In their report, the AAC asked council for $5,000 from the 2021 budget to be allocated for the development and installation of six 4 ft by 8 ft informational signs identifying the County as an agricultural community and encouraging patience and caution on the roads.
Should the ask be approved, staff would be directed to tender for the six information signs which would be placed at key entrances to the County. Those entrances include the Glenora Ferry and Sandbanks Provincial Park. The locations of the signage was determined through consultation with the local OPP.
As noted in the report, as the municipality welcomes more tourists and new residents alike, the safety concerns regarding farm traffic on county roads has been amplified.
“As the County welcomes more new residents and increased numbers of tourists, this problem has been exacerbated,” wrote the AAC in their report. “Farmers have witnessed many near misses and potential collisions. It is just a matter of time before a serious accident occurs.”
The AAC also noted that farm equipment on municipal roads has always been a given in the County and that there has always been frustration with this, though frustration seems to have increased with an increase in traffic.
“Farm equipment on County Roads is and has always been a way of life in our agricultural community. It has also always been a source of frustration for some drivers because of the farm equipment’s size, reduced speed and sometimes the difficulty in passing,” they wrote. “Increased traffic has also caused problems for farmers such as difficulty moving their equipment and accessing offsite properties.”
The AAC hopes to effect change through signage that would encourage both patience and caution from the broader community who will inevitably encounter farm vehicles.
“Signage can remind drivers that this is primarily an agricultural community and that farm vehicles on the roads are to be expected, and encouraging drivers to exercise both caution and patience,” stated the AAC in their report.
A sub-committee of the AAC was developed to conduct research on this matter. They ultimately provided council with some optional sign designs, which council will assess at a later date.
As noted, the proposed signs will fulfill two corporate strategic priorities of the municipality. These are to help promote a livable community by fostering an affordable, healthy, livable community for all and promoting a stable and diversified economy.
This last priority will be achieved, according to the report, by balancing the needs of the tourism industry with the needs of the residents thereby mitigating the impact of tourism on residents and infrastructure.
Councillor Phil Prinzen spoke to this report and indicated it has been in the works for some time, with early hopes being that it would come to fruition this fall.
“This has been something the AAC has been working on for the better part of a year,” said Prinzen. “Then COVID-19 hit and, like everything else, it got put off. This is why we’re just seeing it now. This was hoped to come out before harvest this fall.”
Prinzen also indicated council still has a chance to have input as to the design plans for the signage.
Councillor Janice Maynard also spoke to the report, noting the importance of the proposed signage.
“For any of us that have been driving on the roads this summer and particularly fall, this is an absolute necessity. I appreciate the relatively small ask and if they have any impact, we may want a few more,” she said.
Mayor Steve Ferguson also expressed support for this endeavour, noting he “fully agrees with it”.