FOR THE GAZETTE
Prince Edward County Council has approved the request for a third-party public safety study of traffic and pedestrians at Lake on the Mountain Provincial Park.
The study is to look at pedestrian volume and mobility and vehicle volume and speed, and is expected to begin as early as the week of Aug. 23 while tourism is still high.
Coun. Ernie Margetson brought the request forward at Tuesday’s council meeting seeking recommendations on safety and traffic impact to be in place by the summer tourist season in 2022.
“The goal here is to provide sound technical analysis and recommendation for safety of both pedestrians and vehicular traffic in a popular area that is a very important part of the County fabric,” Margetson explained.
“I bring this motion forward tonight to emphasize and perhaps refocus the responsibility of this council and the municipality regarding the importance of ensuring pedestrian safety on County Road 7 at Lake on the Mountain,” Margetson said. “This is an area that lends itself to a high volume of pedestrian activity combined with the vehicular traffic aspects of a County Collector Road with rural standards and also the activities of the adjacent land uses and attractions which we strive to keep safe for all to enjoy.”
The study follows months of controversy that began when the County’s Tourism Management Plan noted part of the increased parking fines to $400 along a section of County Road 7 near Lake on the Mountain and the Miller House restaurants.
In July, second-generation owner of the Lake on the Mountain Inn and Miller House, Ryan Kreutzwiser, told council the no-parking restrictions implemented on the road would cripple his businesses.
In early August, the Chretien family who own the Lake on the Mountain resort and both restaurants announced they would be shutting the three businesses down after 30 years in business due to the parking restrictions between 230 and 326 County Road 7.
They said there was no consultation with council on the changes and required roadside parking to supplement the existing 45 parking spaces, which they said are not enough, adding that it nearly doubled available spaces.
Danielle Chretien withdrew her scheduled deputation to council Tuesday night. Her written comments said she would like to make a brief statement about the impacts of the Stewart-Bailey motion on “our business, family, staff and customers” and that she would like to follow up with a few questions from council members.
Though he supported the study, Coun. Brad Nieman called the traffic study a waste of money at this point in the season because its data may not be as accurate as a study concluded from the beginning point of the tourist season.
Coun. Stewart Bailey said the study is not a new project that came up with the recent controversy. He referenced minutes to previous meetings of the public works dated May 5, June 16 and Aug. 28 of 2003 along with meetings of the traffic committee dated Sept. 21 and Oct. 26, 2009 and May 20, 2010.
“They all deal with traffic concerns in this area. These concerns are not new. They have a history going back 18 years at least, that I can account for. Along with these, you will find minutes from the traffic advisory committee of June 19, 2019 where I had initially asked the traffic safety issues in this area be looked at. Having an appropriate study like this is timely right now,” he said.
Several other councillors agreed this same type of study could be completed in other high-volume areas in the community, which will become part of a comprehensive review of the Tourism Management Plan before the tourist season in 2022.
Coun. Ernie Margetson also agreed, but explained the Lake on the Mountain site was indicated as being particularly challenging in the plan because of its street geometrics and pedestrians crossing to see attractions on both sides of the road.
CAO Marcia Wallace said other locations could be completed concurrently “if that is the wish of council.” She said the study on Lake on the Mountain will not be difficult to get underway and should include options, given the uniqueness of the location, to provide advice to council about safety in the future.
“We are dealing with a matter of public safety and it is vitally important to begin as soon as possible,” Mayor Steve Ferguson said. “The data may be collected on a regular basis, not just on this roadway, but others, given the popularity of the municipality.”