Move over cars. City eying strategies to make roadways open to all

Tara Jeffrey

City officials are hopeful the public will embrace a new ‘Complete Streets’ transportation plan for Sarnia — adopting a shift in mindset from traditional car-centric roadways.

“We’re getting a lot of positive feedback so far,” said Dave Jackson, manager of development and transportation, pointing to a draft ‘Complete Streets Guideline’ available for viewing online at www.smartsarnia.com.

The staff report highlights a move towards multi-purpose street designs for all ages and abilities — balancing vehicle traffic, cyclists, pedestrians and transit.

This image, from a City of Sarnia staff report, show one share-the-road change that has already been implemented on Old Lakeshore Road in Bright’s Grove. City of Sarnia

Complete Street guidelines and policies are being implemented across North America, Jackson noted, ensuring planners and engineers design and operate the entire street network for all road users, not just motorists.

“It’s not an anti-car initiative, it’s just that we consider all modes of transportation,” he said, noting that if approved, the Complete Streets guideline would be implemented in conjunction with new developments and reconstruction projects. “Most changes will be cost-neutral or low-cost to implement.”

He also pointed to several city projects that have already incorporated Complete Street influences — like shifting the lane marking on Old Lakeshore Road to provide additional space for cyclists and pedestrians; connecting new neighbourhoods like the Rapids Parkway Subdivision to the Howard Watson Trail and Wawanosh Conservation Area; and improving intersection safety with wider crossings and designated pedestrian zones like at Lochiel and Christina Streets.

The draft guideline has already been endorsed by a number of local organizations including Age-Friendly Sarnia, Lambton Public Health, the County of Lambton, Bluewater Trails and the Lambton Safe Roads Committee.

Public feedback can be sent by email to engineering@sarnia.ca or mailed to the engineering department by May 11.

A report will be prepared for the May 28 city council meeting seeking council’s approval.