In August 2017 and again in October 2017, residents living in the Condos on the Esplanade asked that Council look at traffic and parking issues on the Esplanade in summer but they remained on the unfinished business list for well over a year. At their first meeting in 2019, Council reviewed the list and called for reports on each of them. Further, Councillor Emily Chorley successfully made a motion that called for the reports to be made in no more than three months. No doubt because of that, Director of Public Works, Laurie Wills, will present the first report at the next Committee of the Whole meeting on April 1st. Two items are addressed: 1) a concern about traffic congestion in the Division Street and Esplanade area and 2) a concern about traffic and pedestrian volumes in the Division/ Esplanade/ Albert Street area.
The main area of concern is around the corner of Division and the Esplanade as shown in the photo above right.
The reason given for not responding more quickly was that staff should wait to see what the now completed Waterfront Study had to say about this area since it is definitely at the waterfront.
Concern about danger to pedestrians
A new pedestrian crossing would not give pedestrians any additional right-of-way – for that, they would need to be at a controlled intersection and these are already available on Albert (at Third and at Division). New crossings are not required if there is one available within 200 metres and according to Laurie’s report, this would mean a controlled mid-block pedestrian crossing on Albert Street is not required. It’s not clear why she referred to Albert Street when the concern was the Esplanade.
Speed was measured on Division and it was found that “99.86% of vehicles are driving below the speed limit” of 50 km/hr. On the Esplanade, there was no suitable pole to mount the speed tracker on so the report says “however, it may be safe to assume that if vehicles are traveling below the speed limit on Division Street they are likely to be travelling at the same speed or less across the Esplanade where the posted speed is 20 Km/hr”.
Concern about Exiting the Drive-ways from the Condos onto Division
Although Laurie seemed to feel that it was already safe enough, “an improvement that can be made to the entrance to 165 Division Street is for the first parking space to be moved to the north by 2m which will correct the length of the second space. The motorcycle parking is proposed to be reverted back to a regular space once the line painting has been corrected.”
Residents objected to the idea of a traffic circle at the bottom of Division Street because of the tiny space available but Laurie’s report said “Staff will review this option and its potential traffic/parking impact in greater detail when the recommended implementation date approaches.” (See full report below for more on this).
However, Laurie did agree that people using the parking lot on the Esplanade at Division would have a problem with congestion in busy periods.
- As illustrated in Figure 3 (see image), open up an exit only onto Division Street and allow a one way entrance into the parking lot off of the Esplanade.
- Implement a one way only arrangement on the Esplanade from east to west on a 3 month trial basis beginning May 1, 2019.
- Open up an exit only onto Third Street from the parking lot at Third Street/ Esplanade. This will remove one on street parking space and involve relocating a tree. Staff recommends implementing this a minimum of one year after Recommendation #1 so that any operational improvements have been sufficiently realized before investing in Recommendation #3. Staff will report back to Council before implementing Recommendation #3.
It’s not clear where the idea of making the Esplanade one-way came from nor how it helps anything. I suspect users of the parking lot at the West end of the Esplanade would object. Did anyone ask any users or residents?
- Traffic at Esplanade and Division – 28 August 2017 – about 1) traffic on the Esplanade and danger to pedestrians there; 2) traffic on Division Street and 3) objections to the proposed traffic circle.
- Further Calls to Slow traffic on the Esplanade – 5 October 2017 – Support for 28 August concerns
- Unfinished Business report – signed by Director of Works Laurie Wills
After the above was published, a response was added to the Council Agenda.
Response from Residents #1
Once this subject was raised on the Agenda of the Council meeting, it was open to a response by the local residents – and that’s what the board of NCC #50 have done. (Click here for a copy of their four page letter). But here is a summary:
- Although moving the existing parking space 2m north is a good move, with commercial activity increasing on Division Street, parking spaces in front of what was previously Marca’s should be removed or at least converted to “stopping or drop-off status”.
- Traffic speeds were not measured on the Esplanade and in fact although many drive slowly, others are driven well over the 20km/hr speed limit. The esplanade is also used by a number of trucks.
- A pedestrian crossing over the Esplanade would be good for people travelling through Rotary Park to the beach.
- The trial of one way traffic is welcomed.
- Other ideas would be to add Stop signs or speed bumps
- The parking lots on the Esplanade are a mistake and no more should be added. Also, no more green space should be paved over such as seems likely if a traffic circle were added at the bottom of Division.
- The improvements in entry and exit to the existing lots are a good idea.
In conclusion, the letter says:
An alternative solution to the anticipated increased demand in summer seasonal parking, which does not negatively impact our Waterfront, must be explored.
Update March 31 – Response from Residents #2
While the focus has been on residents of the Condos at the east end of the Esplanade, others at the west end have now also expressed an opinion. They are more supportive of the recommendations of Staff. In a letter to Council (download here), they said that their board of directors met and….
We decided by majority vote to support the recommendations #1 and #2 listed in the report, namely 1.) to open up a one-way exit from the parking lot onto Division Street at the Esplanade and allow a one-way only entrance to that lot from the Esplanade. 2.) on a three-month trial basis, to implement a one-way traffic arrangement on the Esplanade going east to west between Division and Third Streets. We also agree with the report’s analysis that a controlled pedestrian crossing at Second Street and Albert is not required, and that speed-bumps on the Esplanade are not necessary. We remain skeptical about the proposal for a future traffic circle at this location and would not support the removal of additional grass from the Esplanade median to allow additional parking.
One thing that is apparent (and good) is that although Works department staff seemed to not consult residents, Town Clerk Brent Larmer is letting people know about issues that might concern them before they are considered by Council.
Update April 1st – Council Decision
After a short discussion at the Committee of the Whole, Council approved staff recommendations with two changes: 1) That the trial period for the one way traffic be 4 months – May to August and 2) that Staff report results of the trial to Council on October 15.
Update April 8
At the regular Council meeting on April 8, Council passed a motion implementing the COW decision.