A side street set to close as part of the Cabana Road reconstruction project will stay open after council voted to ignore staff recommendations and instead, listen to residents.
On Monday, Windsor council voted 7-4 to scrap plans to make the south end of Huntington Avenue, between Howard Avenue and Dougall Avenue, into a cul-de-sac when Cabana is widened from two lanes to four this summer.
City engineer Mark Winterton said closing the road would have reduced the number of conflict points from turning cars and made the area safer for pedestrians and cyclists.
Ward 9 councilor Kieran McKenzie, a big supporter of active transportation, said he doesn’t believe closing Huntington will affect public safety, noting the area doesn’t have very high traffic volumes anyway.
The staff report noted that closing the street would require people on Huntington to drive an additional 200 feet to get out of the subdivision.
Ward 7 councilor Irek Kusmierczyk said 200 feet isn’t much to ask residents to reroute to exit the subdivision, the trade-off being a major improvement to public safety.
“If you are in favour of active transportation, these are the types of decisions where I think you have to back that up. I think public safety is the absolute primary concern that is before us here this evening.”
Mayor Drew Dilkens said the original plan for the Cabana widening, which was approved 13 years ago, called for the closure of Huntington. But Dilkens says things have changed since then.
“Although there is a street 200 feet away, it’s not that far, it will have a significant effect on the folks who live on Inglewood, who are adjacent to Clifford,” he said. “There’s a fine balance between the active transportation and the safety of those using the active transportation lanes we’re putting in and the residents who live in the neighborhood.”
“In this particular case, I believe the right thing to do is leave Huntington open,” Dilkens said. “I think at the end of the day we’re not creating a situation that would be unsafe.”