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Morinville council calls for action on intersection

“Whack-a-mole” traffic at Highway 642, says Balanko
morinville town hall stk CC 5251
Morinville council voted on Nov. 23, 2021, to push the province to look at solutions for the Highway 642/Grandin Drive intersection. FILE PHOTO/St. Albert Gazette

Morinville council wants provincial leaders to see first-hand the traffic problem at a dangerous intersection on the east side of town.

Town council voted unanimously on Nov. 23 to have Mayor Simon Boersma invite Alberta Transportation Minister Rajan Sawnhey, her chief of staff Ryan Hastman, and area MLA Dale Nally to meet with council and discuss traffic solutions for the Highway 642/Grandin Drive intersection.

That intersection is a busy four-way stop that is within about 500 metres of three schools and a gas station. Many council candidates cited the intersection as a safety risk during October’s all-candidate’s forum.

Council’s ability to make safety improvements at this intersection was hampered by both budgets and the fact that Highway 642 is under provincial control.

Coun. Rebecca Balanko described the “dangerous game of whack-a-mole” that often occurs at this intersection when there are piles of drivers stacked up at the stop signs wondering who should go first, adding that she did not let her 11-year-old child cross there alone due to the risk of a collision. Balanko said the town could not continue to let costs stop it from addressing this issue.

“Something has to change, but I also think the onus has to be on the provincial government because that is their road.”

The town’s 2021 capital plan includes $445,000 to install traffic lights at this intersection in 2023.

Coun. Stephen Dafoe won unanimous support to have those lights bumped up to 2022.

“My expectation that this is going to happen this coming year are pretty slim,” he said, but council had also identified it as a high priority.

Town infrastructure services manager Iain Bushell said the 2022 budget (set to be debated this December) would offer a more detailed timeline on the addition of lights to this intersection.

Dafoe motions

Council also supported five other motions tabled by Dafoe during the Nov. 23 meeting.

One called for a report on ways to address vehicles parking in or too close to crosswalks, corners, and neighbourhood entrances. Dafoe said he had received many complaints about this issue over the years and he wanted options on enhanced enforcement.

Council is set to get a report on options at the Feb. 15 committee of the whole meeting.

A second motion called for council to consider the cost of addressing drainage issues in older neighbourhoods as part of its 2022 budget debate.

Dafoe said this related to complaints he had heard from some residents about how years of asphalt overlays have made some roads level with the sidewalk, causing floods and ice buildup.

Town chief administrative officer Stephane Labonne said the town had not in the past spent enough on sidewalks to address these problem areas. The upcoming five-year capital plan would include options to fix the most flood-prone spots in town.

Council approved motions to get a report on the cost to build an unpaved second exit to the South Glens neighbourhood by March 2022 and to make updates on resident concerns a regular part of committee of the whole sessions.

Council also supported Dafoe’s call for a report on what it would cost to have council and chief administrative officer Labonne take a personality test similar to the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator.

Said test is a questionnaire that attempts to summarize how people perceive the world using one of 16 four-letter type descriptors (e.g. INTJ). The tests are popular but widely criticized as unscientific and unreliable.

In an interview, Dafoe said the previous council had proposed taking this test to resolve personality conflicts, and he believes it could help current councillors better understand each other. He agreed that socialization and teambuilding are also important and said he would only support taking this test if it could be done at next-to-no cost.

Kevin Ma

About the Author: Kevin Ma

Kevin Ma joined the St. Albert Gazette in 2006. He writes about Sturgeon County, education, the environment, agriculture, science and aboriginal affairs. He also contributes features, photographs and video.
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