Time to have a ‘serious conversation’ about Stevensville bypass: Dubanow

In the grand scheme of things, Fort Erie’s not that far away from Thorold. But in some ways, it can feel like a world away. And getting further, at least when travel time is the measure.

As the municipality continues to grow, some parts more rapidly than others, Fort Erie councillors have put the call out to their regional counterparts–as well as the staff who work at regional headquarters in Thorold–to be cognizant of the upcoming infrastructure needs in the southern reaches of Niagara.

And that includes some potentially major projects to improve transportation to Fort Erie and its neighbouring communities.

“We need to have a real serious conversation about bypassing Stevensville,” said Councillor Nick Dubanow.

The discussion arose during a staff report that sought council support to reorder the priority of secondary plans the Town is currently working through. The request to reorder the priority came after local and regional staff decided a piece of land known as the West Gorham Community Expansion Area should be removed and dealt with in a different format.

Secondary plans are created for neighbourhoods where large scale development applications are anticipated, giving an added layer of what the municipality expects for a certain area. And with five in the updated priority list for Fort Erie, the report spurred councillors to consider upcoming infrastructure needs.

Mayor Wayne Redekop said they’re points he’s been bringing up repeatedly at the Region, where he said staff may not realize what is happening on the ground in Fort Erie.

“I don’t know how people think cars get in and out of Ridgeway and Crystal Beach from the QEW, but if you’re at the Region, I presume (they think) it’s by helicopter or hovercraft,” he said.

Credit: Raimondo + Associates Architects Inc.

Redekop also said school capacity is a major concern as well, as Fort Erie grows.

Dubanow agreed there are traffic challenges, which led him to argue it’s high time to start thinking about a bypass if those discussions haven’t already started. While much of the attention is on the Ridgeway-Crystal Beach area where much of the growth is occurring, he said there are “upstream” effects, such as in Stevensville as motorists try to get to and from the QEW.

“It’s not going to be viable having essentially a two lane (road)…through an old downtown type community,” he said.

It’s been a point that’s come up repeatedly in recent meetings as councillors continue to tackle development applications. Various infrastructure needs have been mentioned, with transportation to the QEW being among the most recurring. Redekop urged town staff to stay on top of the issues, and make sure their regional counterparts are aware of the needs here in Fort Erie.

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