Chestermere City Council directed administration to include a safety audit and traffic lights at John Morris Way and West Chestermere Drive (WCD) in the 2021 budget deliberation during the Jan. 21 regular meeting of council.
During the Dec. 17 council meeting, Deputy Mayor Yvette Kind put a resolution to the floor
to direct administration to take the necessary steps to install traffic lights at the intersection of John Morris Way and WCD. However, after discussion, the resolution was tabled and then defeated on Jan. 21.
“It’s interesting to come back to it when you’ve been separated from this discussion for so long, and we’ve also had additional information since that time,” Kind said.
“I still believe that we should be proactive, not reactive. I know since the day we’ve been sitting here most of us have felt it is an unsafe and challenging intersection in our city,” she said.
After a six-hour traffic study was conducted on Feb. 14, 2019, it was determined street lights would need to be added soon to the John Morris Way and WCD intersection.
A traffic consultant was hired to provide a study and provide recommendations on the intersection.
During the study, the traffic consultant observed near misses with northbound traffic and left-turning vehicles, and it was concluded that the John Morris Way and WCD intersection was nearing capacity.
“My concern is that it’s fairly final in that we have been told what it costs, and we have been told a timeline, but we’ve also been told by our Chief Administrative Officer (CAO) that we did not put the money into this year’s budget,” said City Councillor Michelle Young.
“As this motion sits, I wouldn’t support it, but I would like to see it put in possibly next year’s budget or bump it up in the project list,” she said.
“This is an important issue, and we need to be proactive,” said City Councillor Ritesh Narayan.
He added, “I would like to have a large discussion about what kind of implications this would have on our budget. It’s an important matter, but I’m willing to wait until deliberations.”
City Councillor Mel Foat added that he does support Councillor Kind’s motion to install the traffic lights.
“There is more than one thing wrong with this intersection. Right now, all we have there is a poorly designed crosswalk,” Foat said.
He added, a signal light on the south side of the intersection could be added to gain drivers attention, or the city could purchase portable stop signs.
To install street lights at the John Morris Way and WCD intersection, it would cost approximately $300,000.
“This resolution was tabled in December. The missing piece is where is the funding is coming from,” said Mayor Marshall Chalmers.
“What we did hear on Dec. 17 was the money would come from somewhere, it’s a little more complicated than that,” he said.
The city has several options for accounts the money could come out of, said the City of Chestermere Chief Financial Officer (CFO) Brenda Hewko.
The options included debt, property tax rates, potential grants, or restricted surplus accounts such as the municipal new capital restricted surplus account, the council priority stabilization restricted surplus account, and the general corporate restricted surplus account.
“I keep hearing that this $300,00 isn’t anywhere in the budget, yet we have discussions about millions of dollars that aren’t in the budget that we’re considering other items for,” said kind.
“If we’re going to spend money on anything, we better have a base to justify to the public how we’re spending their dollars,” Chalmers said.
“We keep saying that everybody thinks it’s unsafe, well let’s get the documentation that says it’s unsafe, a safety audit, so that we can make an informed decision. Right now, it’s perceived,” he said.
Chalmers added that he supports his colleagues that wanted to move the discussion to the budget phase.
“I’m with doing it properly, let’s get the data that says we need to do something and what it is we need to do, and then we put the money in the budget and get it fixed,” he said.