The Citys Transportation Master Plan recommends that the City gauge public interest in converting downtown one-way streets to two-way streets, namely Bay, Queen, Albert, Wellington, Andrew, Gore, Pim and Church Streets as shown below. Converting these streets to two-way operations would potentially benefit downtown business and livability; introduce new pedestrian, cycling and driver safety features; and improve overall accessibility through the downtown. The main disadvantage of street conversion would be the cost for example, of new curb work and traffic signals, and utility and property relocations.
The City has begun studying the possibility of one-way street conversion mainly because the role and function of the downtown’s one-way streets have changed dramatically since first installed 60 years ago. Today retailing, businesses and services are spread out far beyond the downtown. Carmen’s Way now quickly diverts cross-border traffic and commercial vehicles away from, rather than through, the downtown. The result is a shift in vehicle traffic away from the downtown, with the traffic advantages of one-way streets no longer needed.
The Downtown Traffic Study will determine the benefits and costs of downtown street conversion, and establish the level of public interest in conversion. To do this, the Study is being conducted as a Schedule B project in accordance with the province’s Municipal Class Environmental Assessment (Class EA) process. Following this process, the Study will first confirm the need and justification for potential street conversion based on existing and future downtown traffic conditions. Next it will identify conversion options and evaluate their impacts, both positive and negative. All this will include open consultation with the general public, downtown stakeholders and involved agencies. Two Public Information Centres (PIC) will be held during the Study to provide opportunities for formal input, the first in late fall and the second during the winter of 2018.