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TBM committee passes transportation plan to council

Discussions during the last meeting centred around a potential Highway 26 bypass around Thornbury and Clarksburg, and a regional approach to planning transportation
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The draft Transportation Master Plan (TMP) for the Town of The Blue Mountains is ready to go to council for comments and amendments.

The town’s Special Transportation Committee met on August 2 to go over the latest draft of the TMP and ultimately voted to refer the report to council for consideration at a special committee of the whole (COW) meeting.

Committee chair and councillor Rob Sampson will request that Mayor Alar Soever schedule a special COW meeting for members of council to consider the contents of the TMP.

“There has been a lot of input into this, there has been a lot of good work by staff and the consultant on this,” said Sampson.

The committee discussed the latest draft of the plan for just over two hours at the meeting and covered a number of topics including: the potential for a Highway 26 bypass around the Thornbury/Clarksburg core, active transportation/cycling networks and their impact on the overall road system and the possibility of a larger regional approach to transportation being needed to solve a number of transportation challenges and needs that don’t stop at municipal boundaries.

On the issue of a Highway 26 bypass, Sampson suggested the TMP should include at least a few options to be considered. Sampson said if the TMP at least suggested potential bypass options, it could act as a trigger to start discussions with the higher levels of government.

Project Coordinator Adam Fraser said the bypass is identified in the plan as an area of need and future study, however, the project would have to be driven at a higher level.

“An alternate (route) around Thornbury/Clarksburg would need provincial leadership,” said Fraser.

With cycling and e-bikes growing in popularity, how the town manages active transportation needs in the future was a key discussion point for the committee.

There was agreement on the committee that Highway 26 and higher volume county roads should be primarily for the movement of traffic and goods, with active transportation networks being encouraged on other roads.

Sampson suggested the TMP could specifically identify these primary roads on which active transportation would “play second fiddle.”

“That’s just the way it is. That’s the way the road will be managed,” said Sampson. “These are some of the critical mainstay statements that need to be in our plan.”

The possibility of the TMP leading to a larger, regional and multi-municipal approach to solving transportation issues was also an area of discussion for the committee.

Councillor Bill Abbotts encouraged the committee to look outside the town’s borders to see what was happening with active transportation to better understand what should happen within the town’s borders.

“A cyclist doesn’t see boundaries. They only see the roads and trails they’re going to ride,” said Abbotts.

Sampson said a regional approach will have to be tackled at some point in the future.

“The reality is we are intricately connected and importantly connected to areas outside of the study area,” said Sampson. “We need to find a way to make the rest of the region think this way. We’ve got to stop this silo thinking. It’s not helpful. It’s not the way people live here.”

The next step for the TMP is to receive comments and suggestions directly from council at a special COW meeting to be scheduled for the near future. Following that, a third public information centre to gather public comments on the draft report will be held. The exact timing of when council will make a final decision on the adoption of the report is still to be determined.

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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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