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Puslinch residents upset as speed limit increase approved

But while they demanded that Wellington County council defer its decision to increase the speed limit to 70 km/h, the decision was approved later in the meeting

PUSLINCH ‒ People speeding to beat yellow lights. Slamming their breaks with every pause in traffic. Daily traffic accidents.

These were a few on the laundry list of concerns that were protested during a county council meeting ratifying a speed limit increase on Lake Road in Puslinch, west of McClintock Drive, an area just south of Highway 401. 

The speed limit has been increased from 50 km/h to 70 km/h.

Creating signs and assembling in silent protest outside the municipal office on Woolwich Street Thursday morning, members of the Lake Road Community Committee demanded county council defer their decision another year due to concerns that changing the speed limit to 70 km/h would bleed into a neighbouring residential area. 

Tamsin Lambert, a Lake Road resident who attended county council on behalf of the group, said when she moved to the community two decades ago, she never imagined the road would become hazardous.

"Lake Road is being changed from a community to an artery," said Lambert, in an interview post-decision. "We all know 70 turns into 90 and 50 turns into 70." 

According to Lambert, drivers are already doing 70 km/h down their road and most people living in the area have witnessed countless speed-related incidents. 

"Historically, my neighbour has had an accident backing out of her driveway and I have to be extremely careful because of the bend of the road," said Lambert. 

A delegate at the county roads committee meeting earlier this month, Daniela De Francesca, said she's also witnessed multiple accidents, most recently when a speeding vehicle lost control and crashed into a ditch last week. 

De Francesca was one of many of the residents wanted to protest in person Thursday but were unable to attend due to work schedules and the timing of the vote.

"Our small community is at the mercy of the Wellington County council," said De Francesca in an email. "Our children utilize the new shoulder aprons...(and) our greatest fear is that if a speeding vehicle loses control, our children could be harmed."

But while Coun. Matthew Bulmer agreed with residents concerns about the proposed speed limit increase, he asked that staff implement post-project traffic monitoring to ensure that the changes produce the intended impacts rather than defer the decision. 

"I think it's quite clear that the traffic volumes on county road 32 have significantly increased over the years," said Bulmer. "I understand that the increase is less than the 80 km/h that are typical of a county road but I think we can all understand why this is still a concern for the residents." 

Backed by county engineer, Don Kudo, Coun. Gregg Davidson, chair of the county roads committee, confirmed in addition to previous speed studies, seasonal monitoring will be implemented and an update will return to council next fall. 

But Lambert believes the additional traffic monitoring won't tell councillors anything the residents haven't already said. 

"Moving forward, there needs to be bigger conversations about how we're going to address the heavier traffic and speed increase in our area," said Lambert. "It's not a safe environment right now ... I'm just so worried that tragedies are going to become the norm." 

As for next steps, while the community group feels the speed limit increase is a "done decision" for now, Lambert said they plan to start a local sign campaign in the hopes it will encourage commuters to slow down. If successful, Lambert hopes to expand the idea across the county.

Isabel Buckmaster is the Local Journalism Initiative reporter for GuelphToday. LJI is a federally-funded program.

About the Author: Isabel Buckmaster, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter

Isabel Buckmaster covers Wellington County under the Local Journalism Initiative, which is funded by the Government of Canada
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