Area residents are urging extreme caution at a busy intersection in the heart of Silver Heights.
Their concerns have been shot down by city council members who deny there is a new and dangerous traffic problem in their neighbourhood.
Since the Tim Hortons opened at Ness Avenue and Mount Royal Road in late 2011, car accidents have become alarmingly frequent at that intersection.
Manitoba Public Insurance data shows that between 2007 and 2011, there was an average of two accident claims made per month. Some years were good — in 2010 there were only 15 accidents for the whole year. Other years were not so good — in 2008, there were 29 claims.
In 2012, however, the intersection was the scene of more than 89 accidents. That’s three times more than the worst of the previous five years, an average of almost two per week.
Matthew McBurney, a resident of the area, says the difference is the constant lineup of cars trying to turn left off Ness, either into the Tim’s, or south onto Mount Royal. A full view of the oncoming traffic is blocked, making it unsafe to complete the turn. Since there is no turning light, a motorist’s only choice is to run the yellow.
"Too often someone who has been stuck in a huge lineup decides to pull into the curb lane and try to make the light, right at the same time as another driver pulls out to make a left," McBurney says.
The result can be disastrous.
"We’ve had more close calls there in the last year than ever," he adds. "We avoid that intersection like the plague now."
Another problem is that drivers turning left a few blocks before or after Mount Royal is increasing traffic on the residential streets of Silver Heights.
"There are lots of young families, little kids running around. Someone is going to get killed," McBurney says.
An application to install a left-turn signal at the intersection was considered, but denied when a traffic flow analysis conducted by the city’s public works department showed there was not enough traffic volume to warrant it. An appeal was also denied, despite the accident data and strong support from area residents.
While it’s not quite enough to make McBurney and his wife consider leaving the area, they steer clear of Tim Hortons.
"The city needs to step up and take some responsibility here, before someone is really hurt," he says.
Jennifer Dunsford is a community correspondent for St. James. You can contact her at firstname.lastname@example.org.