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'Hit them in the wallet': Springwater targeting bad drivers

'There are differing opinions on the approach we take. However, at the end of the day, I feel that we are all working towards the same goal,' says councillor
Springwater Township council has asked staff to prepare a report on automated speed enforcement. If adopted, signs like this one, recently installed in the village of Angus in Essa Township, could be erected 90 days before the program starts.

Springwater Township council is united in its fight to reduce speeding across the municipality.

At last week’s regular council meeting, council directed Springwater staff to provide a report containing details, options and costs associated with an automated speed enforcement (ASE) program. 

Council has requested the report be delivered prior to finalizing the 2024 budget.

“I think we all know speeding, traffic and community safety are at the forefront of things happening in our communities, but a lot of the speeding is happening locally,” Coun. Phil Fisher said when he introduced the motion.

“I think, in order to curb behaviours, frankly, we need to, for lack of a better term, hit them in the wallet and speed enforcement cameras are the way to do it," he added. 

ASE is an automated system that uses a camera and a speed measurement device (radar) to detect and capture images of vehicles travelling in excess of the posted speed limit. They are used in school zones and designated community safety zones. Prior to implementing an ASE program, municipalities must post “coming soon” signs 90 days in advance. 

Essa Township and the City of Barrie have both introduced ASE programs within the past few months.

According to Springwater’s chief administrative officer, Jeff Schmidt, council has a lot of latitude when it comes to designating community safety zones. 

“My understanding is it’s up to council to determine which zones you wish to designate,” Schmidt said at the council meeting. “It’s up to you.”

The decision to investigate the viability of an ASE program follows on the heels of the Springwater's decision last week to install traffic-calming bollards in a number of the township’s most vulnerable pedestrian areas, from May to October, beginning next year.

According to Coun. Danielle Alexander, there is no "one-size-fits-all" solution to speeding and the township is willing to look at a variety of solutions — alone or in combination.

“There are many different approaches to how we address speeding, such as crossing guards, bollards or an automated speed enforcement program,” she said. “There are differing opinions on the approach we take. However, at the end of the day, I feel that we are all working towards the same goal.”

According to the 2021 report Long-Term Fiscal Impact Assessment of Growth, 2021-2041, prepared for the township by Watson and Associates Economists, Springwater's population will increase to almost 50,000 residents — with the majority of that growth coming in the Midhurst area, just outside Barrie.

The report noted that 71 per cent of the population growth and 72 per cent of the housing growth will occur in Midhurst.

Additionally, Midhurst will also be the focus of anticipated road construction, with about 150 kilometres of roadway added in the community while another 41 kilometres will be added in the remainder of the county.

Fisher, who represents the Midhurst community, said speeding and traffic were the top concerns of residents in his ward during the last election. He said residents were concerned with what future growth and traffic volume will look like on Springwater streets.

“People want a clear plan for getting ahead of the problem,” Fisher said.

Deputy Mayor George Cabral noted the township has a robust and comprehensive traffic-calming policy. When utilized, it provides analysis, verification and recommendations where appropriate, he added. 

“Generally, based on my own past history, the worst offenders are the folks who actually live in the affected neighbourhoods, since many of these types of complaints are specific to residential roadways," Cabral said.

Wayne Doyle, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter

About the Author: Wayne Doyle, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter

Wayne Doyle covers the townships of Springwater, Oro-Medonte and Essa for BarrieToday under the Local Journalism Initiative (LJI), which is funded by the Government of Canada
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