In the 2018 campaign we put up a billboard in West Brant that read: “If I were mayor, you’d be home by now.”
It was aimed at the traffic problems in the area and on Brant Avenue, a result of growth in West Brant. People from West Brant trying to get to work, shopping or Highway 403 hit bottlenecks at the Lorne Bridge-Brant Avenue intersection and another at Dalhousie-Colborne-Clarence. With more growth coming, it’s going to get worse.
Back in the 1980s, the planned solution was to build a new road from Colborne Street West, heading north across the Grand River and then connecting to Oak Park Road, leading to the 403.
The city bought most of the property, but little else was done. So, our council started an environmental assessment study to see what it would take to finish the project.
The study raised some big red flags: sensitive environmental areas, archeological issues around historical First Nations communities, the high cost of the bridge and the fact that a whole neighbourhood had grown up around the route. Plus, it goes past a cemetery that didn’t exist in the 1980s.
Council decided to not proceed further with the Oak Park Road project.
We also ruled out completing the Brantford Southern Access Road (BSAR) connecting Veterans Memorial Parkway to the Gretzky Parkway. Almost half the route was supposed to go across the Six Nations Glebe property but, understandably, that’s something Six Nations doesn’t want to see happen.
So, we knew what we weren’t going to do. Next, we had to figure out what we were going to do.
Traffic experts told us to improve what we already have. That includes twinning the Veteran’s Memorial Parkway Bridge, fixing the pinch point at Clarence-Colborne-Dalhousie and trying to improve traffic flow on Brant Avenue.
But we still have to do more for the Shellard Lane area, which will soon reach 25,000 people.
A promising possibility is to work with Brant County on a solution that involves improving the Colborne Street West and Rest Acres Road corridors.
Brant County has its own traffic issues, especially in Paris. We talked to Brant County, and they showed an interest in developing a robust regional transportation plan that will help both municipalities. A win-win.
That will also fit in with another goal to improve the links with Cambridge, Kitchener and Waterloo. They are powerhouses of economic development, and it would be good for us to have better connections.
That also includes transit. We recently talked to the provincial government about setting up a GO Bus link to Waterloo Region and Guelph.
We’re now focused on what we need to do in the next four years to deal with our transportation problems.
I believe that, at the end of the next four-year council term, we’ll be well on the way to saying: “The billboard was right.”