With the school season just around the corner, I wanted to keep the community abreast regarding the safety improvements at the intersection at Portage Avenue and Ferry Road, directly across from St. James Collegiate.
In February of this year city officials, the St. James-Assiniboia School Division and I held a public meeting to discuss a number of solutions and take suggestions from citizens on ways to improve safety in the area for the pedestrians and motorists crossing this busy intersection.
I brought forth many of the suggestions to our Assiniboine Community Committee to have Public Works implement the most effective options. The five main suggestions are the installation of a countdown clock for pedestrian safety, a consideration to change the parking restrictions, the installation of a ‘No Right Turn’ sign, the installation of planters, benches and improved streetscaping along the median or sidewalk, and street widening around Ferry Road.
The installation of the pedestrian countdown clock happened earlier in summer and my office has received very positive feedback. As well, the installation of a ‘No Right Turn’ sign off Portage Avenue east or westbound on a red light at Ferry Road has been put in place. This has a time restriction of 7 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. Monday to Friday.
The St. James BIZ and the city have developed a new streetscaping improvement initiative to make the area more inviting for shoppers and residents as well as make the area safer for pedestrians. Soon, you will see new planters, pedestrian benches and streetscaping along the median or sidewalk from Ferry Road eastbound down Portage Avenue.
These ‘barriers’ will be placed in a way to discourage mid-block jaywalking. We have also been working with the school division to install a new fence along the St. James
The fence will have openings only at locations where students can be directed towards the traffic lights. Other schools have installed fences which have shown to be very effective at preventing mid-block crossing.
The city will be working closely with the local residents of the area in regards to parking changes on Portage Avenue and Ferry Road. There is the option to consider the change of parking signage on the south side of Portage Avenue, between Collegiate Street and Douglas Park Road, from ‘No Parking 09:00 - 17:30 Monday to Saturday to ‘No Stopping 07:00 - 17:30 Monday to Friday’ for the safety of all pedestrians. These changes need the support of 60% of local residents along the proposed areas.
City officials have also developed design and costing for street widening along Ferry Road to help with traffic flows, especially in peak hours for school drop-off and pick-up. Decisions should be finalized by the end of summer.
At the end of the day, our main objective is the keep all pedestrians, employees and students as safe as possible. We are glad that our community consultation was well
attended and suggestions from the public have been incorporated into the plan to make the corner safer.
If further changes are needed once the proposed improvements are made, I will co-ordinate another public meeting to get feedback from local residents.