By Mike Anderson

The Town is moving forward with its plan to make Lake Drive one-way, allowing for vehicular traffic on one side of the road and a bi-directional, multi-use lane for pedestrians and cyclists on the other.

On November 22, council gave the green light to proceed with a business case for a detailed design of the first phase, which includes Lake Drive North from Metro Rd at North Gwillimbury Park to Woodbine Ave and Lake Drive East from Woodbine Ave to Dalton Rd.

Future phases will include Lake Drive South and Hedge Rd.

At the 2024 budget meeting, held on Dec 5, council approved $120K for the detailed design phase, as well as the collection of additional data on traffic, pedestrian and parking usage, and the impact on side streets.

The project, including construction costs, will be reviewed during 2025 budget deliberations in December, 2024.

If approved by council, completion of the first phase is slated for spring 2025. The total project cost is estimated at $735K. The work, completed within the existing paved area, would include traffic calming, signs and pavement markings.

This follows the Town’s Lake Drive Functional Assessment Study, completed by the consulting firm WSP Canada Inc., received by council on November 22.

The purpose of the study was to re-imagine Lake Drive and Hedge Road as a “mixed-use corridor” that promotes active transportation and is safer and more functional for all road users.

According to Ryan Post, the Town’s lead on the project, an online survey that drew more than 500 responses, two virtual sessions (22 attendees), and one in-person public information session (42 attendees) shows strong resident support for making Lake Dr safer for all users.

Still, several business owners in Jackson’s Point have voiced concerns over the proposed changes, which they say would inconvenience residents, reduce customer traffic, and make commercial deliveries more difficult.

While Lake Dr, between Ravenswood Dr and Dalton Rd, the commercial area in Jackson’s Point, will remain two-way, business owners would like to see two-way traffic extend west to at least De La Salle Park.

According to Chantelle Reynolds, Chair of the Jackson’s Point BIA, making Lake Dr one-way to Ravenswood Dr would force delivery trucks to turn around using narrow residential streets, such as Ravenswood Dr, Nasello Ave and Dalton Rd.

“These streets are very narrow residential streets, and we have businesses that get deliveries three times a week via large trucks. And not only would it be difficult for trucks to navigate the narrow roads and turn the corners, they would also be disrupting the residents on otherwise quiet streets,” Reynolds told council on November 22.

Reynolds also argues local restaurants using delivery services like SkipTheDishes and DoorDash would also be impacted, as deliveries to the De La Salle Park would be more difficult with Lake Dr one-way.

Hamid Sharifi, owner of EM Convenience in Jackson’s Point, also doesn’t support making Lake Dr one-way.

He believes creating a dedicated one-way lane for vehicles may increase, rather than decrease, speeding.

“It will create a straight path for cars to go faster. I think the best way is to add more speed bumps, street lights and maybe cameras to give them a ticket,” he said.

Steve Jacobson, the former Chair of the Jackson’s Point BIA, also opposes changes to Lake Dr.

In a December 4 letter to council, he argues that no data suggests the current road is unsafe.

“Nowhere in the report are there any statistics to show it is unsafe,” he said. “A search of the YRP Community Safety Data Portal revealed no accident or incident reports to support that it is unsafe.”

Jacobson also argues a one-way road will not provide areas for delivery and property maintenance vehicles to pull over, may delay emergency services, and will inconvenience residents, forcing them to take circuitous routes to get in and out of their properties.

While Jacobson acknowledges that speeding is an ongoing issue that needs to be addressed, he believes other less expensive options could be pursued.

“The issue is much more prevalent during just 16 weeks. Enforcement and education would be a far better approach than spending $735K painting lines to make it one-way, which will inconvenience Lake Dr residents and businesses all year,” he said.