By Chris Pickup

Traffic’s a little like water; it takes the easiest route and moves faster downhill.

Residents in the Park, Seneca, Cayuga and King William Streets section of Caledonia have already had a foretaste of the future, with new traffic barrelling down their roads at speed every day, using it as a less-traffic populated shortcut from the arterial McClung to Caithness. 

This is an older established neighbourhood located directly south of the new Empire Avalon subdivision. It is populated by a mix of people from young families to the elderly. Its roads have no sidewalks, and are used by kids riding bikes and young mothers pushing strollers.

With the applications for two draft plans of subdivision by McClung South,  and Park and McClung to fill the gap between Avalon, which is presently in the first three of 16 phases of development, and the established residential area directly south, something has to be done about the traffic, residents say.

The new development, known as McClung South, is proposed to connect to Avalon via an extension of Seneca Street to Larry Crescent. Another access will connect into Park Street, which presently connects to Cayuga Street at one end and McClung Road at the other. Park street is slated to be extended from Cayuga to Seneca and brought up to urban standards.

Once those connections are made, there will be nothing to stop traffic using the established neighbourhood roads, with county staff and developers relying on keeping Cayuga or Seneca as is in an effort to stop people from using them.

Adding to the problems will be the new project’s population density, ranging from 423-477 persons, depending on the type of units built. 

Residents voiced their concern at Haldimand council in committee Tuesday. 

One resident said he was “profoundly concerned about safety issues”. He proposed Cayuga and Seneca streets be dead-ended at Park. If Seneca is extended to Larry, traffic would use it for sure, he added. He also suggested speed on McClung be limited to 60. (Staff were already ahead on this matter, with a proposal to do just that later on in the agenda.)

Another resident sees cars racing 60-70 kph through the neighbourhood. “We all know we drive the quickest way” he said.

King William and Caithness seems to be a major focus, with several people noting kids on bikes were being run off the road by speeding traffic. 

One man has four children who all have to walk to school since they are outside the school bus zone and noted Caithness is not passable in winter. “They have to cross the road, it’s not acceptable,” he said.

A 50-year resident of King William noted the roads are not designed to take such traffic – they have enough trouble with garbage trucks. “A shiny black car barrelled up Caithness, careened onto King William and missed by inches a neighbourhood boy,” she recalled. 

“I’ve no quarrel with progress, but there has to be an alternative without invading our older long-established community.”

A Caithness St. resident cited multiple problems from speeding close calls, to his kids afraid to ride a bike on King William, an elderly mother afraid to back her car out of her drive, moms with strollers.

This was not a problem until Empire. It will only get worse, with Avalon residents putting themselves at risk. In a nutshell, we’re looking for closure of Cayuga and Seneca at Park.”

(While an auxiliary southbound right turn is proposed in the county report for the McClung and Caithness intersection with an all way stop to minimize traffic delay, it is not likely to be for another three or four years.) 

Another point of concern for this resident is flooding risk to his property. The new subdivision will make use of different technology than the time-proven storm water ponds. Now, flows will be directed to a storm sewer system, a bio-swale and a filtration unit known as a Jellyfish filter to ensure stormwater is directed to and cleaned prior to outletting to the Grand River.

The Jellyfish is new to Haldimand and will be treated as a pilot project. The filter will require annually scheduled inspections and maintenance to ensure proper functioning, but is less expensive than inspection and maintenance of a stormwater pond.

However, the resident notes he is not a great proponent of such trials in the area where he resides. He lives downhill from the McClung South property and should anything go wrong in an unusual storm the water will flow onto his property. He has a well, and his neighbour a cistern, and if it fails to remove all pollutants then it will be an issue for his drinking water.

Leroy Bartlett asked for information on capacity and size of the filter to be brought back to council Monday.

Councillor Shirton asked staffer Tyson Haedrich how challenging it would be to have the two roads closed off, and was told no technical challenge, but discussions needed to be held with residents.

Corbett noted complaints of insufficient notification of meetings, and asked if it was out of the norm. Haedrich said it was the norm across the province according to the Planning Act. CAO Don Boyle interjected that this particular session is not legislated. This is an opportunity to discuss issues and focus. 

Planner Craig Manley added the county deliberately went to this process. They hold an Information session to identify concerns, and take time to explore issues and know what they are upfront. “All staff are doing today is introducing it,” he said.

Boyle noted in the past council ‘‘held the public meeting today, made decisions today, but that didn’t work for us. We require the public to meet again.”  

As an aside, Tony Dalimonte asked that the county stop using the term “affordable housing” with regard to these housing developments. While the McClung South project has made no provision for “affordable housing”, Dalimonte noted the term means something much different in the social services world.

The people we’re working with are the working poor and the poverty stricken. Housing provided by social services is subsidized housing and the two are worlds apart. We’re misleading people,” he added.