Letter: Concerns Over Lack of Public Transit/Road Improvement Plans For MBNP In Bruce County Master Transportation Plan

The following is an excerpt of a letter sent to Bruce County and MNBP Council. To view the entire letter visit www.northbrucepeninsula.ca and look under correspondence in the June 14th agenda.

Dear Editor, Bruce County Council and MNBP Council,

May 20, 2021

I am writing this letter to explain my concerns about the lack of a public transit and road improvement plans for the Municipality of Northern Bruce Peninsula (MNBP) to be included in the Bruce County Master Transportation Plan for the next 15 years. How many residents and cottagers on the Northern Bruce Peninsula stated their opinions, concerns or comments to the Bruce County transportation planners? 

According to the three tier government system in Ontario which includes federal, provincial and municipal, the county is not a government on its own to make decisions. The mayors of the municipalities of Bruce County make decisions for the residents and cottagers of Bruce County. The municipalities are given the responsibility for public transit. Grey County is funding public transit from Owen Sound to Wiarton, Hepworth and Sauble Beach. How long do the residents and cottagers have to wait for public transit to Pike Bay, Lion’s Head, Stokes Bay, Miller Lake and Tobermory. There is a need on the peninsula for this service. 

Why should the Municipality of Northern Bruce Peninsula provide public transit and include the safety of the roads and intersections in NBP?

1. As the third tier government in Ontario, public transit is within the municipality’s responsibilities.

2. In other areas of Ontario, the three levels of government have collaborated with several municipalities to bring public transit to many rural communities. 

3. SMART is already operating in the southern municipalities of Bruce County in collaboration with three levels of government.

4. Last year, 400,000 visitors travelled through Northern Bruce Peninsula over 4 months. That equates to approximately 3,333 visitors per day. With those statistics many residents stay off the highway 6 due to heavy traffic and safety concerns. What has the MNBP council planned to ensure the safety of their community residents during this high volume of traffic? Would public transit availability ensure safety and less traffic on highway 6?

5. During the 4 months each year that the tourist industry appears to be the focus of MNBP Council, the safety and transportation needs of the community should also be considered by balancing the needs of both groups. What provisions have been made for public transit to alleviate the vehicles on the roads? What provision has been made to have a consultation with community members from all demographics related to a MNBP Transportation Plan?

6. Every summer season, there is a concern about the intersection at Highway 6 and the Ferndale Road, County Road 9. What plans have been made to make this intersection safer? Where is this needed improvement in the MNBP 2021 budget? It will cost money. It might need collaboration between three levels of government.

7. Where is the government money that was set aside for paving the West Road several years ago? West Road is used by school buses, church goers to Pike Bay Church and residents to go to the Pike Bay Community Centre. West Road is also an important secondary road off the peninsula should there be an emergency or disaster that necessitates quick evacuation. Are the MNBP roads considered within the NBP Emergency Preparedness Plan?

8. The Bruce County Master Transportation planners want to have included concerns and ideas from the community residents. There is a priority for walking, biking and cycling on the roads in Bruce County. Has anyone completed a safety assessment for these activities on the Bruce County roads? In my opinion, most of the roads in Northern Bruce Peninsula are not safe for these healthy activities. The shoulders are too narrow. Is the status quo safe for pedestrians and cyclists? 

9. There is a part of Highway 6, south of Tobermory that has no detour potential if traffic was stopped due to an emergency. There is no road around this area. In this litigious society, there should be a concern that although there is knowledge of this dangerous situation, there have been no plans, no budgeting and no applying for government grants to alleviate this danger.

If you are concerned, write, e-mail or phone a councillor to encourage the MNBP Council to consider public transit and safe roads on the peninsula as a high priority in planning, applying for grants and budgeting in 2022.

Sharron Colter,

Lion’s Head ON