Again, amidst honking, hollering and barking dog, Smiths Falls council welcomed two delegations to chambers Monday night. Rob Campbell of Campbell Trucking brought a different perspective to councillors about the Beckwith Street Redevelopment Project, for which Councillor Dwyer, in the chair, thanked him.
Campbell, a resident of the Town, said he has spent many years looking over the big white hood of a truck, driving both up and down Beckwith Street having passed his A Licence on his eighteenth birthday.
His contention is that traffic needs to be kept moving on Beckwith as it’s a King’s Highway whereas other smaller towns have county roads running through them. “There’s no other place to put those trucks,” he adds, citing examples of the ease of driving on Beckwith with angle parking versus through other small towns i.e. Perth with parallel parking. There, he says, every time a car parks, stops, backs in, it interrupts the flow of traffic. “If they’re good at it, it only takes 15 seconds,” he says. But in Smiths Falls, he continues, with angle parking it’s a mere drive-in and park, no stopping.
He did allow that getting out was a bigger problem.
The issue for truckers is pulling a 70 ton gross load — the stopping and starting, combined with street lights, might mean “shifting gears six times” to “lift the truck up” and get to the light. “With angle parking, the truck keeps moving.”
Campbell also acknowledged there would be no bike lanes with angle parking, but questioned how much money bicyclers brought to the town anyway. “Bicyclists aren’t big spenders. They’re not out for a big meal and beer at lunch…they’re out for a bike ride.” His suggestion was to route bicyclers down Maple, install bike stands for cyclists when they wanted to get off and tour the Town.
Councillor McGuire, obviously interested in Campbell’s presentation, said he’d love to drive around in a truck, to which Campbell immediately extended an invitation — “Come on out, boy!”
McGuire continued with stats from an Ontario bicycling study; bicyclers spend up to $250 per person per trip versus car trips at $171 per car per trip. He pointed out that long-distance bicyclers when cycling 100 clics a day use a lot of calories, so spend money. “They have to buy accommodation and food.” So getting cyclists to go through downtown would be an economic benefit for shop owners.
Mayor Pankow added that the possibility of parking lanes, or bays, on Beckwith for either pick-up trucks or compact cars “may be part of the configuration to accommodate all vehicles.”
Troy Dunlop, Director of Public Works and Utilities, explained that the Town’s lights and control systems are antiquated. “We are using 1980s hardware trying to move 2019 traffic.” The redevelopment design calls for new traffic signals at “Elmsley, Main and Russell, which will dramatically improve our ability to flush traffic through at peak hours.” But he did admit that in the summer “when the swing bridges are up, there’s going to be delays. That’s the reality of a busy, successful downtown.” Dunlop agreed that a “sit-down” with Campbell and Jim Bell, Manager of Traffic Operations for the Region of Ottawa-Carleton, and on the Smiths Falls design team, plus the traffic engineers, would be beneficial.