Committees matter

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I am sometimes asked about council advisory committees and their value. Recently, a Ward 1 resident asked me about the Traffic Safety Advisory Committee (TSAC) as they had not heard from them in a while. I chuckled at this because the day before, I attended the monthly TSAC meeting and the lack of reporting on committee work became a topic of conversation.

While maybe not glamourous or newsworthy, this is an example of excellent and incredibly important work done by a committee as their wisdom greatly influences council decisions. I will be clear here; the TSAC has proven to be a valuable source of wisdom and advice on traffic safety matters since it started its work in 2019.

This past year, the TSAC provided input on several county projects, including long-term transportation planning on the Range Road 231 and 232 corridors toward Highway 628 (Whitemud Extension). After reviewing the speed limit change requests in both the Meadowhawk and Half Moon Lake subdivisions, the committee put forward a recommendation for administration to create consistency in the county’s policy regarding speed limit changes in subdivisions or rural areas that includes resident input.

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Another item that has been a topic of conversation at the TSAC table has been the intersection of Sherwood Drive and Granada Boulevard. While many people have expressed frustration with receiving a ticket for an illegal right-hand turn there, the committee provided excellent resident feedback on the intersection. They have also expressed support for long-term engineering changes to improve intersection safety as it has become problematic with too many collisions involving unprotected pedestrians and motor vehicles.

Another critical item to residents on Glenmore Avenue is the upcoming reconstruction planned for 2021. With the older road being rebuilt this year, TSAC reviewed the speed data, resident feedback and engineering report on the road and evaluation, and passed a motion supporting the reinstallation of traffic calming measures when the road is rebuilt. They also recommended the county complete further investigation and consider resident input on whether to add an additional speed hump as the resident feedback and data were not in complete agreement.

One last item that has created waves recently is the Glen Allan Traffic Calming project. While the project was initiated in 2015, well before TSAC was created (or I was elected to council), the committee did a thorough review of current data from county administration. The data showed average speeds drop considerably in the neighborhood and despite the initial report calling for a speed limit reduction, the committee recommended the county continue monitoring the area for the next three years to determine whether a speed limit reduction is needed in addition to current traffic calming methods.

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This advice underlines the TSAC’s commitment to using data to guide their evidence-based recommendations to council. At the annual presentation to Priorities Committee last month, TSAC chair Bob Horton spoke of traffic safety being like a three-legged stool, with those legs being engineering, education, and enforcement. If you pair good engineering with a robust education (and communications) plan, the hope is that fewer people will put themselves in a position where laws must be enforced against them.

This committee, like other advisory committees in Strathcona County, brings a level of wisdom to council that assists in better decision making and for that I am grateful. Watch Strathcona County’s website in the fall of 2021 for opportunities to join county boards and committees.

Robert Parks represents Ward 1 in Strathcona County. You can follow him on Facebook at ParksInWardOne, on Twitter @RobertParks247 and on Instagram at RobertParks247. He can be contacted at robert.parks@strathcona.ca or 780-464-8005.

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