Craigleith residents voice support for permanent speed reduction along Highway 26

·3 min read

Local residents living near Highway 26 say they support the municipality’s effort to reduce the speed limit along the roadway between Collingwood and Thornbury.

“There's been a substantial increase in traffic over the years and the 80 km speed limit is causing great concern for the people in this area,” said Eric Button, president of the Georgian Shores Drive Preservation Association and Craigleith resident.

Button provided a deputation to TBM council at a meeting held on April 6 on behalf of the Georgian Shores Preservation Association, a group of ratepayers that formed to oppose the widening Highway 26.

Button previously appeared before the TBM transportation committee in July 2019 requesting the same speed reduction.

“Certainly the recent motor vehicle collision has brought this concern into sharp focus for the residents,” he added.

In late January, a head-on collision along the stretch of highway claimed the life of a 60-year-old Collingwood resident.

“We have unfortunately witnessed several deaths that have occurred immediately adjacent to us on Highway 26,” stated Bob and Joan Newman in a letter to council.

“We would appreciate the ability to cross the highway without the “duck-and-cover method.” We feel we are taking our lives into our hands trying to access the trail or cross the highway, whether in our vehicle or as a pedestrian. My wife and I fully support and applaud any efforts made to apply a permanent and meaningful speed reduction here,” Newman continued.

Button said local residents have three main areas of concern about the highway – the intersection with Timmons Street; the intersection of Hwy 26, Lakeshore Road and Fraser Crescent; and the intersection of Grey Road 19 west to the provincial park.

“This area is fully built with private driveways. It's a congested area. Again, there are pedestrians crossing and the pedestrians walking along 26 to get to the commercial establishments, and there is also a substantial amount of traffic going in and out of those commercial establishments,” Button said. “I would submit to council that an 80 km speed is simply not safe.”

Button added that the Georgian Shores Drive Preservation Association is not in favour of widening the road to allow for additional lanes, but would prefer the municipality explore the creation of a bypass.

“It is our position that it will be necessary to develop bypasses around the area in order to provide viable alternatives for motor vehicle traffic, particularly commercial traffic, going to Meaford, Owen Sound and beyond,” he said.

Although the construction of a bypass would take an investment of time and money, Button said reducing the speed now would also be beneficial once a bypass is constructed.

“One of the ways to ensure the bypasses are viable and convenient is to undertake traffic calming and slower, safer speeds in appropriate areas,” he said. “We understand the municipality is investigating such alternates and slower speeds. We wish to state our strong support of these measures.”

As previously reported, earlier this month representatives from Collingwood, TBM, Grey County, the Ontario Provincial Police and the Ministry of Transportation held a meeting to discuss and develop an action plan for Highway 26.

A staff report summarizing the findings from the meeting is expected to come before council, however, no date has been provided.

Municipal staff have stated they intend to have council-supported traffic calming initiatives implemented along Highway 26 between Thornbury and Collingwood ahead of summer 2021.

Jennifer Golletz, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, CollingwoodToday.ca