Estevan city council discussed plans to reduce the number of uncontrolled intersections in the community during their meeting on Monday night.
Estevan has received $40,000 in funding through the Provincial Traffic Safety Fund to install stop signs at half of the uncontrolled intersections in the community. The plan has been to apply for more funding next year to install stop signs for the remaining uncontrolled intersections in Estevan.
A document that outlines which intersections need to be remedied first has been approved by the city’s traffic control committee and the Estevan board of police commissioners. It called for stop signs to be installed in the Hillside and Hillcrest subdivisions this year, since those are the areas where the highest accident rates occur at uncontrolled intersections.
Police Chief Paul Ladouceur said the traffic committee discussed the areas they wanted to address first, and which they saw as the most problematic. They wanted to address the situation in a systematic way, rather than do a few in each quadrant of the city.
“This isn’t a case of they’re forgetting about this intersection, or this should be a priority, we have to give credence or a little bit of credit to the traffic (committee) members that are out there every day. They’re looking for where they’re seeing the most common areas for accidents.”
But after a suggestion by Councillor Trevor Knibbs at last week’s police board meeting, it was decided to also add stop signs at the uncontrolled intersections near schools in the northwest and southwest quadrants.
Knibbs wanted to ensure that the signs were located next to schools and parks.
“There’s going to be some public outrage at stop signs,” said Knibbs.
He cited the example of the First Street, where people go sledding in the winter, as an example of an area that could use more stop signs.
The revised map was released at Monday night’s council meeting.
Councillor Travis Frank said a few people who live in the Hillside area have raised concerns with the uncontrolled intersection issue. He would like to see a more detailed map, with information on whether it will be a two-way or a four-way stop.
Councillor Lyle Yanish then suggested taking care of all of the uncontrolled intersections this year. He believes it would make the city safer to do so, but it would also alleviate the concerns of ratepayers who want to know why some subdivisions are being taken care of this year, while others have to wait.
Knibbs agreed with Yanish’s suggestion.
“When you look through it, there are toddler parks that aren’t covered and busy streets that people are asking for that we didn’t get, and there have been a lot of people phoning for a long time like residents on Nicholson (Road) and a bunch who aren’t getting anything,” said Knibbs.
Mayor Roy Ludwig pointed out the grants are a contentious point with larger communities in the province, since the money is generated by tickets from photo radar in larger communities and some photo radar revenues are going to smaller cities and towns.
“Those cities are not happy, they’re lobbying against it. While that program is in place, we get the benefit of getting grants like this,” said Ludwig.
The mayor suggested council could pay the extra $40,000 to have all of the uncontrolled intersections phased out in 2019, and still applied for the grant next year.
Councillor Shelly Veroba, who has been an advocate of stop signs at all intersections, cautioned that if the city does proceed with completing all of the uncontrolled intersections this year, then it might not be eligible to receive funding next year.
If the city would still receive funding despite going ahead, then she would probably support it, but if not, she would rather wait until next year.
Ludwig countered the people administering the fund would probably look favourably at the city for taking the initiative.
“SGI, which is a strong partner in this, they would probably advocate because it saves them money on the accident side, so we would probably get it, but there’s no guarantees,” said Ludwig.
Council tabled the document so that it can be advertised for the next two weeks, and members of the public can provide feedback. They will then revisit the issue at their next meeting, which is scheduled for July 15.
Councillor Dennis Moore suggested that when the map is advertised that they include a reminder of how uncontrolled intersections work for those who haven’t encountered them before.