All town-maintained roads in Bracebridge could see the default speed limit set at 40 km/h.
The first-ever Transportation Master Plan (TMP) for Bracebridge was discussed during the town’s Nov. 7 General Committee meeting. “We think it’s a very wholesome plan to move all of our transportation networks forward,” said Geoff Carleton, Director of Public Works.
The plan was done by ARCADIS Professional Services Canada Inc. Zach Henderson, Senior Transportation Planner, was on hand to go over their recommendations.
He said their research shows lowering the speed limit by 10 km/h increases the chances of surviving crashes from 25 percent to 60.
“We know that simply changing the signs isn’t going to necessarily make drivers slower overnight but it provides a starting point for other items that can be implemented after that,” said Henderson.
Over the span of 20 years, the TMP lays out short, medium, and long-term phases that will cost roughly $47 million. Henderson said the plan covers projects that could be done by the town and the District of Muskoka on the roads it maintains within Bracebridge. Bracebridge, if all projects are approved, would be on the hook for $17.1 million – around $930,000 a year – while the district would cover the remaining $21 million, – $1.4 million annually.
Notably, over the next 20 years, the TMP details the construction of a cycling network. Once completed – and if approved by council – it will see a 54 km network created throughout the urban and rural parts of town.
Henderson pointed out the TMP is just a recommendation. Any idea laid out in it would need to be brought back to council for a formal discussion and go through an approval process.
“We believe this TMP is going to help Bracebridge manage the growing demands, continue to move the town towards a more multimodal transportation system, and improve safety and efficiency on the road network all while protecting the town’s character and heritage,” said Henderson.
Carleton pointed out the plan is fluid, noting it’s suggested that it be looked at every five years to see if updates are needed.
Also, he pointed out that he and Henderson worked with Mark Misko, the district’s Director of Engineering and Transportation, on the plan.
With that in mind, Carleton said the 40 km/h default speed would only apply for town roads.
Coun. Don Smith noted his concern about enforcing the speed limit change.
In Henderson’s report, it’s noted that 85 percent of drivers adhere to the posted speed limit.
“I can’t see how it’s going to have a major impact on that 15 percent which is really where we need to be addressing our concerns,” said Smith.
However, Carleton said that dropping the speed limit by 10 km/h may not result in an immediate change, but it’s a good start. “It’s the first step towards moving to safer streets,” he continued.
While many councilors were happy with the ideas laid out in the plan and the overall direction of the plan, Coun. Archie Buie put forward a motion to defer approving the plan until Bracebridge’s Dec. 6 General Commitee meeting. “The more questions I hear answered, the more questions I have,” he said.
The rest of his council colleagues agreed.
“We want to recognize the amount of staff time, the amount of time that our consultants have put into providing a product to us,” said Mayor Rick Maloney, adding they want to make sure they have enough time to look into the report.