SASKATOON – The decision by Saskatoon city council Monday to remove a barrier blocking traffic from 9th Street East to Lorne Avenue is short-sighted and disappointing, according to the president of Nutana’s community association.
“The process was great, the city was great, just leadership failed them in this instance,” said Mike McKague, Nutana Community Association president.
Saskatoon roads saw unprecedented construction in 2015
The community association doesn’t have an opinion on what the best traffic design is, according to McKauge. However, he said the decision undermined the hours of work local residents had put into coming up with the recommendations.
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“The process that the neighbourhood went through to develop recommendations for safety for traffic calming was a big part of city staff, a lot of volunteer hours, residents came out, a lot of public meetings,” said McKauge.
“For council to arbitrarily change a decision outside this process really undermines the whole process.”
The barrier was erected at the end of 9th Street, forcing drivers to find another route to access Lorne Avenue, which merges onto Idylwyld Drive. Ward 6 City Coun. Charlie Clark said he’s heard safety complaints from residents about drivers using the street to access the freeway.
“There had been the meetings, when people sat around the tables and talked about what are their concerns in that part of Nutana … the conclusion among the people there was that closing 9th Street is the best solution,” said Clark.
A petition to remove the barrier was started after the community meetings took place and generated roughly 100 signatures. Laurel Beaumont, who started the petition, said she was “relieved that common sense was applied” by council to remove the blockade.
Beaumont said the community traffic review meetings were “poorly attended” by roughly 100 people according to the city’s numbers and that her petition was a more accurate account of those directly living near the barrier site.
Clark contended that normally only 30 or 40 people would attend similar meetings around the city.
“By my measures as being a councillor for nine years, those are pretty big numbers to get people out,” said Clark.
One resident who signed Beaumont’s petition is Vince Martin, who said re-opening 9th Street to Lorne Avenue was going to help traffic in the area.
“It’s that one block closer, but it does make a big difference overall,” said Martin, who also owns two apartment complexes in the area.
“City streets are for everyone to use not just the people who live on them.”
Martin said he was also upset that the barricade closure was initially made permanent, without any room for review.
“They went from a neighbourhood meeting to permanently closing the roadway without any evaluation,” said Martin.