SAULT STE. MARIE, ON – A seemingly benign request to move a yield sign ended with Mayor Provenzano voting against a new stop sign meant to keep children safe.
After a fairly quick decision to not vote in favour of moving the yield sign back on Illinois Ave. to make it more visible.
Ward 1 Councillor Paul Christian put forward a motion to turn it into a stop sign.
“My reason for asking council to consider turning down staff recommendation and putting in a stop sign is purely for child pedestrian safety in the area,” said Cllr Paul Christian.
According to local resident Jennifer Craig who lives on the corner and started a petition to have the sign changed, the intersection of Illinois Ave. and Texas Ave. is extremely dangerous.
“The non-residents of the neighbourhood coming in, to and from to pick the kids up at school would always use these back roads because of the congestion that would happen on Wellington,” said resident Craig. “Their disregard for the neighbourhood, you know, was apparent which, in our minds warranted a stop sign.”
Throughout the discussion, Cllr Rick Nero and Mayor Provenzano worried about liability.
“Where do we stand in terms of liability when we make this type of decision? Do we take away staffs position legally, to defend this, if something ever happens?” asked Ward Four Cllr Nero.
City Staff were unable to give him an immediate answer so he chose to vote against the motion for a stop sign.
“Perhaps we should be in a position where we could defend these things should something happen. I don’t feel confident that should something happen, that we will be confident to defend it. So, I’m going to vote against the stop sign,” said Nero.
When Mayor Provenzano proceeded to say staff direction was “clinical” in this position because it was a child safety issue.
Mayor Provenzano jumped quickly at Christian when council with his opinion where council sits on this issue.
“I assure you, council Christian children’s safety is important to everybody who sits in this council, which is why we follow regulations and provisions for this.”
Mayor Provenzano agreed with Cllr Nero saying there are prescribed regulations when it comes to what sign goes where.
Mayor Provenzano admitted to not being a traffic expert but says he will always follow staff advice when they are applying regulations prescribed by the Ministry of Transportation.
Mayor Provenzano voted against the motion to place a stop sign.
In the end, the stop sign motion was approved and Craig was happy with the result and her councillors.
“Everybody including the neighbours, the counsellors involved, everybody was very collaborative and supportive of this initiative, hence, seeing through to success,” said Craig. “We’re very grateful for the energy and time and commitment that the counsellors Paul (Christian) and Sandra (Hollingsworth) put in for this on behalf of the neighbours.
In addition to this new stop sign increasing safety in the community, a school zone study is currently underway and could be ready in quarter four of this year for council review.