The effort for more streetlights along Highway 15 has been pushed into next year, following a lack of support from the Ministry of Transportation (MTO) and the United Counties of Leeds and Grenville.
The Township of Leeds and the Thousand Islands council this week instructed staff to make it an item for the 2022 budget. The issue of poor illumination at intersections along the highway was discussed at a committee of the whole meeting Tuesday evening.
There are four proposed locations for the streetlights.
They are the east and west sections of Main Street in Seeley’s Bay along Highway 15, the intersection of County Road 33 (Lyndhurst Road) and the highway, and the intersection of Sweets Corners Road/Thomas Road and the highway.
Multiple councillors expressed their disappointment in the province’s decision not to carry out the process for adding better illumination to the roadways.
“It got pushed down, as so many things do, from the province and the county to us,” said Coun. Mark Jamison during the meeting.
Coun. Gord Ohlke mentioned in the meeting that a resident noted the worst time of the year for dangerous conditions is in the fall, due to a combination of fog and trees still having leaves.
The process for inquiring about streetlights came from residents raising concerns about close calls of vehicular collisions at the intersection, said chief administrative officer Stephen Donachey.
Following council members raising concerns to staff, engineering consultants at CIMA Canada were retained to determine if lights would lower the number of collisions and close calls.
Donachey said the consultants informed the township none of the lights looked at would meet MTO’s threshold, but the four intersections proposed would “be beneficial” to offering better illumination.
Because Highway 15 is under the MTO and counties jurisdiction, the township was not in a position to install lights immediately. Upon consulting with both entities, Donachey said neither the MTO nor counties expressed interest in installing the lights themselves, but the township was free to do so.
“Basically, if we wanted to go ahead with it, it would be entirely our cost,” said Donachey over the phone Wednesday.
The MTO was contacted for clarification on its threshold but did not offer an answer, instead stating it could not comment because it had not received the report CIMA completed.
According to a report presented to council, the total cost of installing the streetlights at all four intersections is $ 84,542.48 plus HST. The 2020 capital budget included $ 60,000 for the installation but was removed due to constraints from the COVID-19 pandemic. Money was not re-allocated for the 2021 budget.
Numbers obtained through the MTO and Ontario Provincial Police indicate there is no chronic issue of collisions at any of the locations.
In the last five years, the east and west Main Street intersections with Highway 15 in Seeley’s Bay have had eight collisions. The County Road 33 intersection had three collisions while none were reported at Sweets Corners/Thomas Road in the same time frame.
Despite the lower numbers, it was the council’s wish to press forward with the installation of the lights.
“If there is a step that we can take here that reduces risks then if council approves it as part of the 2022 budget, we will get right on it,” said Donachey.