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Prepare to stop — there might be more signs coming

'We can always look at it again later if there is a tidal wave of requests that come forward,' Coun. Natalie Harris
2019-06-13 Natalie Harris crop
Barrie Ward 6 Coun. Natalie Harris. Photo supplied

New stops signs could be coming to your Barrie street.

City council will consider final approval Monday night of a motion that during the provincewide state of emergency and stay-at-home order, city staff review and consider approving stop-sign requests initiated through discussion items at general committee that meet 20 per cent less volume than the provincial guidelines. This would be based on recent data collected by staff that there is minimal pedestrian activity and on average 15 to 25 per cent fewer vehicles on the roads than the previous year.

“I just think it’s going to open up the conversation a little bit more, that we aren’t ignoring that there are some areas that probably do need these stop signs,” Coun. Natalie Harris said on May 3. “With the decrease in traffic right now, we are not even coming close to meeting the requirements of where we may have been approving stop signs, had COVID-19 not been happening.”

Only Coun. Sergio Morales questioned the move.

“If Coun. Natalie Harris’ item for discussion passes, we might see a flurry of items for discussion of various locations that are ineligible under previous criteria,” he said.

“I don’t have a whole bunch of stop signs that I want in my ward. Am I wrong to maybe assume that it wouldn’t be a massive amount of requests coming forward to staff at one time?” Harris said. “We can always look at it again later if there is a tidal wave of requests that come forward.”

It’s city policy that traffic and safety measurements be done before stop signs are installed, but those standards cannot be met with low vehicle totals due to the pandemic.

“The hope in the future is obviously that COVID-19 will be in the past and that people will be able to go back to work again,” Harris said.

“But in the meantime… we’re looking at a decrease in the traffic of about 20 per cent, and I just think it brings council an option to have those discussions during COVID-19, “ she added, “because we do hear from our constituents and our residents that they have valid concerns and they want stop signs in certain areas.

“With the (current) numbers it’s just a ‘no’ and I’ve even been saying to certain people “we’ll wait a little bit, then maybe the numbers will pick up and we’ll try to do the research into it then’.”

City policy is also that council gives staff direction to investigate and report back on stop signs, but council always has the authority to override its own policies.

Last month, council approved the installation of stop signs northbound and southbound at the corner of Sproule and Miller drives in the west end, along with a four-way stop at Dock and Cox Mill roads in the southeast.

At Dock and Cox Mill, staff measured a stopping sight distance of 70 metres when a stopped vehicle is eastbound on Dock Road, looking north. The minimum distance required is 105 metres. So staff recommended installing an all-way stop at the intersection of Cox Mill at Dock Road. Also, forestry and traffic staff will work with the resident located on the northwest corner (326 Cox Mill Rd.) to prune foliage to maximize stopping sight distance and to increase safety at the intersection.

An all-way stop was recommended at Cox Mill and Dock roads due to the restricted stopping sight distance on the northwest corner.

Staff did not recommend installing all-way stop signs at the intersection of Miller and Sproule, as it does not satisfy any of the Ontario Traffic Manual warrants  volume, collision history or stopping sight distance. But council approved the installation.

Unwarranted all-way stops create operational and safety concerns for both pedestrians and vehicles entering the intersection, staff say. They make drivers feel the stop is unnecessary and motorists do not always comply with the stop control. 


Bob Bruton

About the Author: Bob Bruton

Bob Bruton is a full-time BarrieToday reporter who covers politics and city hall.
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