County of Brant Councillors unanimously approved the 2022 Transportation Master Plan update and final report at their Administration and Operations Committee meeting on Tuesday, April 11, 2023.
The Transportation Master Plan (TMP) looks to meet the needs of existing and future travel, improve road network safety and operations, ensure efficient movement of goods, make active transportation more attractive and accessible, as well as growing transit connections within, to and from the County of Brant.
In 2022, Staff provided the public with the documents for the draft of the TMP for a 30-day review period between November and December, allowing residents to comment on the plan.
Residents suggested calming measures along Cockshutt Road, as well as a roundabout at Cockshutt and Phelps Road to improve access to and from Burtch Road. Inquiries about timing for improvements along Grand River Street North were also submitted, along with concerns for pedestrian and cycling safety along routes identified for hardtop conversion, improved transit connections and concerns for traffic congestion along Highway 24 and Pinehurst Road.
While all resident input was responded to and considered, no changes were made to the TMP summary report at this time. However, within the summary report it has been recommended that the TMP be up for review every five years to determine whether it will need a formal update to speed up the timeline for any of the recommended projects in the report, including the Grand River Crossing Environmental Assessment by 2041.
The Grand River Crossing study will look at how to respond to the congestion over the Grand River and include the analysis of existing bridge widening alternatives or a potential east bypass.
Councillor John Bell raised concerns about waiting until 2041 to review the potential of another bypass in and out of Paris.
“It [the report] says the ‘western bypass route and related improvements are insufficient to address downtown Paris constraints,’ and yet we push the consideration of alternatives like a Paris east bypass away until 2041,” he said. “I believe we should be doing the study of a bypass around the northern part of Paris whether it’s west or east.”
Councillor Bell noted that there should be a study of routes around Paris from the north and he put forward an amendment to see a study done within this term of council rather than in 2041 as indicated in the TMP.
Rob Walton, General Manager of Operations for the County of Brant said that adjusting the entirety of the TMP would not be worth it over one issue when it will be up for review in the next five years.
“The transportation master plan is a road map of where we are and where we need to be and it’s suggesting that by 2041 there’s a decision made on what other alternatives need to be done besides the west bypass to address this issue,” he said. “The study to do that has seven figures in it, so it would be over a million dollars just to do the study and quite frankly right now we’ve got our hands full dealing with the MTO at Rest Acres Road. …, In five years there will be a TMP update and if things have changed so dramatically that we need to look at this more, it will be identified then.”
Councillors Howes and Lukas Oakley supported Bell’s amendment with Howes noting that in the next ten years, there could be a minimum of 748 new houses and quite possibly, even one-thousand new homes in the north end of Paris.
While Councillors David Miller, Brian Coleman, and Robert Chambers agreed that the study needed to be done sooner than 2041, they did not agree with Bell’s amendment to move the study up at this time. All three councillors noted that there was no need to rush Staff to make the decision during the current meeting when they could put a cohesive effort to get the study onto the next TMP review in five years.
After more back-and-forth about the timing of the study and the difference between getting it done in four years or five, Councillors voted on Bell’s amendment and it was defeated 6-4, leaving the study to be reconsidered in five years when the TMP gets an update.
Councillors then unanimously voted to approve the final version of the 2022 Transportation Master Plan.