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Bid to reduce Eugenia speed limits fails

Council was split over the idea of adding a stop sign and reducing the speed in an area of town where a pedestrian was killed and three others seriously injured last month
Lake Eugenia
Lake Eugenia.

An effort to reduce speed limits and add stop signs in the area of Eugenia where a pedestrian was killed and three more were struck by a vehicle last month was defeated at the Grey Highlands council table.

At council’s meeting on Aug. 3, coun. Dane Nielsen brought forward a resolution to immediately reduce the speed limit to 40 km/hr on Inkerman, Canrobert and Pellisier Streets and make the intersection of Canrobert and Inkerman a four-way stop and the intersection of Inkerman and Pellisier (a T-intersection) an all-way stop. Nielsen’s resolution also called for staff to prepare a report about conducting a pedestrian safety study for the entire municipality.

The traffic measures proposed by Nielsen divided council and were defeated in 3-3 votes after an effort to defer the resolution was also defeated 3-3. Coun. Tom Allwood was absent from the meeting. The request for a pedestrian safety study was approved 6-0.

Nielsen’s resolution did not refer to the recent fatal accident in that area of the municipality, but instead focused on recent traffic increases due to more visitors to the area and increased traffic in that area of Eugenia due to usage of the nearby public boat launch and beach area.

The resolution led CAO Karen Govan to warn council to be careful.

“This motion does concern me. The municipality has been put on notice for a future legal claim,” Govan said. The CAO said the municipality has been advised by legal counsel to not react to the recent accident until a full OPP accident report is available.

In response, Nielsen said the staff advice was frustrating.

“We’re not allowed to react before something happens. We’re not allowed to react after,” he said. “When do we react?”

Nielsen also noted that his resolution was worded in a way that it was not a response to the recent accident.

According to Grey Bruce OPP, a vehicle collided with four pedestrians on Inkerman Street in Eugenia on July 19, killing one man and injuring three other people. The driver fled from the scene. According to a news release from the municipality on July 20, the driver was identified. As of Aug. 2, police confirmed no charges had yet been laid. 

Nick Wilson, a collision investigator and media relations officer for Grey Bruce OPP said police are "still completing the investigative steps surrounding the matter."

Govan said she understands the issue is “sensitive and compassionate,” but she said it’s her responsibility to relay the advice the municipality has received to council.

“Our insurers are asking us to take a moment to find out what the cause was before we make any decisions,” she said.

Coun. Paul Allen supported the resolution.

“We’re just trying to prevent something similar from happening in the future. To me, it’s common sense to respond to things that happen in our municipality.”

Coun. Cathy Little asked for the resolution to be deferred until more information becomes available, which was supported by Deputy Mayor Aakash Desai.

The deputy mayor noted the information they need is coming from the OPP and not a consultant.

“If we’re going to take reactive measures, let’s take reactive measures with substance. We don’t have the details around what happened on that particular evening,” he said.

The deferral was defeated in a 3-3 vote with Little, Desai and Coun. Danielle Valiequette in support.

Council then proceeded to hold separate votes on the speed limit reduction, the stop signs and the pedestrian safety report. At one point, Desai attempted to amend the resolution to include Grey Highlands pursuing photo radar technology to enforce the new speed limits in the area (if passed). However, his amendment did not find a seconder.

The speed limit and stop sign portions of the resolution were defeated 3-3 with Nielsen, Allen and Mayor Paul McQueen in favour.

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About the Author: Chris Fell, Local Journalism Initiative reporter

Chris Fell covers The Blue Mountains and Grey Highlands under the Local Journalism Initiative, which is funded by the Government of Canada
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