Dr. Q. Bristow P.Eng. |
Chairman, Billings Avenue Committee,
Faircrest Heights Community Association
22nd July 1999
[The part concerning the traffic on Billings Ave. begins at para four]
Dear Ms. Foo,
We very much welcomed the visit last week by you and M. Pierre Grandmaitre, with Councillor Allan Higdon, to assess the status of the Andrew Russell Park at the East end of Billings Avenue. Clearly something will have to be done to reopen it as a public green space of some sort. I imagine the building is in violation of every building code known to mankind and will probably have to be demolished. We realise that funds are always in short supply and that whatever the ultimate function, it would have to involve minimum upkeep and maintenance.
A first step should perhaps be to cut the grass (where it exists) and remove briars and other undesirable scrub growth. There are a number of nice mature trees which would afford shade to park benches and picnic tables judiciously placed. This would be particularly attractive to seniors, many of whom stroll around the neighbourhood with grandchildren or pets.
As I indicated to you at the time, this is the sort of project that would seem to be ideally suited for workfare involvement. I understand and fully sympathise with M. Grandmaitre's dilemma that any ongoing use of this labour source creates problems with unions. Nevertheless, the Harris Government has made workfare a major policy plank and the minister responsible should really deal with those sorts of policy problems if he expects the municipalities to take advantage of it.
I also mentioned the growing concern of Billings avenue residents about the alarming increase in traffic on this street. It is not just the additional volume, but the excessive speed that half a mile of unobstructed road seems to invite. It is quite obvious that this is primarily due to commuters from the new housing developments in the south of the city heading to and from down town, filtering through Smyth road and Pleasant Park road, both of which are fairly congested at peak hours with buses and commercial traffic. Too many have discovered that Billings avenue is a neat short cut between Alta Vista Drive and Lynda Lane, with only one stop sign, no bus stops and no traffic lights. The distance is of course the same, but the time is probably halved if you can rocket along without let or hindrance at 80 km/h .
I have done a straw poll of some of the residents and the response in all cases was very forthright indeed; something should be done and done soon, for the protection of their own young children, or the ones they care for. As a grandparent in that category, I speak from experience.
I gather that M. Grandmaitre leans toward the idea of eventually blocking off Lynda Lane to traffic, which would of course have major ramifications for parking and so forth and that the whole question of area traffic patterns and other matters will be addressed in a long term study that is due to begin in the next few months.
The trouble is, as John Maynard Keynes once famously observed, "in the long run, we are all dead." I would therefore like to propose that in the interim it would be reasonable to close Billings avenue at Lynda Lane. This would eliminate the dangerous leakage of commuter traffic through this residential area, without forcing a decision on Lynda Lane parking before the study has been completed. I am of course aware that every resident would love to live on a cul-de-sac if they could manage it. My argument is that Smyth Road and Pleasant Park Road are designated collector streets for commuter traffic, with bus routes, sidewalks, full street lighting and traffic lights. They both run parallel to Billings avenue which is narrower, has no sidewalks, few street lights and was never intended to be used as a short cut race track for commuter and commercial traffic. If it would help the case, I am certainly willing to gather signatures for some sort of petition to that effect.
I have lived on the street since 1972 and I can attest to the fact that there was never any need to worry about speeding traffic until the last four or five years. There most certainly is now. I fear that it is only a matter of time before a child will run after a ball at dusk on a late summer evening into the poorly lit road without the buffer of a sidewalk, and into the path of a pickup truck or muscle car with the pedal-to-the-metal, bombing between Lynda Lane and Alta Vista Drive. I suggest that the time for action is now, before that happens rather than after.
Quentin Bristow.Billings Avenue
Mrs. Joyce Wright, President, Faircrest Heights Community Association
Councillor Allan Higdon
M.. Pierre Grandmaitre, Director, Business Strategy Branch, Community Services.