By David Brown, Rideau Jock Councillor
Happy New Year!
Residents often reach out to my office to report excessive speeding and unsafe driving conditions, providing helpful suggestions about how the City might improve the safety of our roads for drivers, cyclists, and pedestrians.
I wanted to take a moment to outline what my office’s role is in addressing these issues, how the City can assist through the 3-1-1 process, and what other options exist to address traffic-related issues across our communities.
My office’s most significant role in addressing traffic issues like speeding comes in the form of the City’s Temporary Traffic Calming (TTC) program. This program provides Councillors’ offices with an annual budget for introducing measures such as speed boards, flex stakes, certain painted markings, speed humps, and more.
To introduce these measures, our office works with City staff to conduct a traffic study. If warrants are met, staff recommend TTC measures to my office, and we work with staff to determine the best measures to introduce. While this process can take several months, it ensures that measures are introduced only where they are warranted and that the best measures are introduced to successfully calm traffic.
The annual budget that our office has is extremely limited. Unfortunately, we cannot introduce as many measures every year as we have requests. However, the measures build over time as, once they are installed, we do not have to pay for their annual re-installation. Over time, this program helps ensure that measures are introduced across the Ward.
Beyond the TTC program, my office mostly plays a supporting role. We are consulted on major changes and can provide recommendations to staff. We can support residents in filing requests to 3-1-1 or ensuring that there is appropriate and timely follow up on their requests. And ultimately, I work with my Council colleagues to set City-wide policy. For instance, I am working to get more money allocated towards infrastructure improvements that can benefit our Ward and am working to remove Manotick from the City’s truck route network, which is a larger change requiring considerable effort behind the scenes with staff and Council.
Most traffic measures are managed directly by City staff. Staff apply independent criteria and standards to identify and address areas that most warrant changes. Though removing political involvement limits my ability to direct staff, it ensures that I am not competing against my fellow Councillors for limited funds. These independent measures are imperfect, but are fairer than the alternative for our Ward.
This means that measures like road upgrades and resurfacing, major infrastructure re-design, stop signs and traffic signals, posted speed limits, automated speed enforcement, red light cameras, and more are not measures that my office can directly influence.
If you would like to see measures considered for your community, or have issues such as potholes to report, the best thing you can do is to contact 3-1-1 to submit a request with the City online.
If there are roads or intersections that have frequent excessive speeding or traffic violations, the best thing to do is to file a non-emergency police report with the OPS. These reports are vital as they are used to inform where police officers dealing with traffic enforcement are assigned. This is the only way for the public to inform where officers are placed. Police enforcement of speed limits and safe driving is a very effective way to reduce speeding and traffic violations.
Residents with suggestions on items outside my purview to influence are still encouraged to reach out. Though I do not have the ability to implement every change that our communities might benefit from, I always make sure to bring residents’ concerns to staff and to use those concerns to drive change on a policy basis around the Council table. As I work to make sure that our Ward’s priorities are taken seriously, input from residents is always appreciated.