So another teen was hit trying to cross 100 Avenue last week. Sprained ankle, light concussion, couple bruises. She was home the next day. She’s lucky because it could have been far worse, even tragic.
I’ve written about the conditions pedestrians face trying to cross 100 Avenue in the past. In fact I’ve done several editorials on 100 Avenue and the shuffle one engages in trying to get from south side to north side or the other way around.
When we ran the article on the vehicle / pedestrian collision online last week, we received many comments. Seems a lot of folks were quick to offer their profound wisdom that the Town of Morinville needs to spend money on traffic lights up and down 100 Avenue instead of on the myriad liquor stores that have opened of late.
While crossing 100 Avenue is akin to the old 80s arcade game Frogger, it seems that some residents in the community think running the town is exactly like playing Sim City, a game where you as ruler of the community determine what businesses and amenities will be opened. It makes me wonder if people are really that uninformed about how things work in a community or if they have visited all five liquor stores before posting their comment. In either case I often wish folks would pull their heads out of their posterior orifices before putting their fingers to the keyboard.
You see, as most of us know, Council does not sit there and say, “You know, I think what this town really needs is a liquor store on every block, a place where the common man or woman can get juiced.” Towns do not open liquor stores, coffee shops, sock stores or convenience stores. They enact bylaws that zone specific areas of town for different classifications of business. Business people take their or borrowed money and invest it in a business they think will provide them a return on their investment. Now whether it is coffee or something a little stronger, customers and how the businesses treat them will determine what survives and what fails. The Town’s only role is in permitting or not permitting a business to open based solely on whether that type of business is permitted, discretionary or prohibited under the zoning bylaw. The town simply has no place or right to say four liquor stores are enough or that two grocery stores or one newspaper is sufficient and all others need not apply.
So the 100 Avenue pedestrian problem is not a matter of the mayor and council having their priorities backwards on funding liquor stores Vs. funding traffic lights.
The matter then is should council order the placement of flashing lights on 100 Avenue. It is a completely valid suggestion and one that might actually remedy another three people getting clipped over the next three months.
But there is a problem with that because 100 Avenue doesn’t belong to the Town of Morinville. Because 100 Avenue is also Highway 642 and because Morinville is just a town, the road falls under the control of Alberta Transportation. That means if someone wants to open a sock store, convenience store, coffee store, or a sixth and seventh liquor store, they are going to have trouble if they want people to enter their business off 100 Avenue. The province doesn’t like it, doesn’t want it and likely won’t permit it. Likewise if the Town wants to close the road for a parade; they have to ask the province for permission. Extending town hall another eight feet towards the road required provincial permission. Placing stop lights along 100 avenue at every cross walk is not going to be a popular request with the province.
Pedestrian safety on 100 Avenue is one of a number of problems the town is facing with what is a provincial highway. But they are working on those problems. A Highway 642 functional study and plan began last year and is continuing this year. Sturgeon County has even come on board to participate in addressing concerns on the parts of the roadway that are in the County. Additionally, Council approved funding a Traffic and Pedestrian Safety Review and Plan. This initiative will examine Morinville’s crosswalks, speed limits, stops and other traffic and pedestrian matters to see how best to handle problem and potential problem areas.
Last Wednesday night’s accident was not liquor related, so we cannot blame the number of liquor stores. It was not weather related, so we cannot blame sanding the roads. As the investigation is ongoing, we do not know what the cause was. But we all know the real problem on 100 Avenue is the number of drivers who believe they can exceed the speed limit, pass drivers who have actually stopped for pedestrians, or whip past a crossing pedestrian as soon as they are past their bumper.
That is and always has been the problem for pedestrians on 100 Avenue. But why address our own driving habits when it is much easier to blame the mayor, council or those who dare to open one liquor store too many?