On May 4, Innisfil Council heard from a delegation of retailers including Alcona Hair Solutions, Pizzaville, Macs Milk, Tim Hortons, and Jeans convenience store – all of them distressed by a sharp drop in business since the Innisfil Beach Road urbanization project began.
Popular wisdom has it that this is due in large part to the construction of centre medians and tree planters that prevent vehicles from making left turns into some properties. It was also acknowledged that the relocation of the LCBO to Trinity Plaza has negatively impacted traffic volume at the 25th Sideroad.
Urged on by local citizens who complained that the urbanization project was a waste of money, and Councillors who consider it beyond our means, Council was considering a motion to remove some elements of the urbanization design. In the end, Council was confused about what exactly was to be removed and what would remain. The discussion was deferred until Engineering can provide a revised drawing for clarification.
I have edited the original road designs posted on the Innisfil Beach Road website to illustrate here what I believe is the amended plan.
Town staff recommended removing six centre medians with planters (I have marked each of these with a red X), while keeping left turn traffic medians with signal lights at three major intersections between St. John’s Road and Jans Boulevard.
I leave it up to you to decide to what extent this affects the overall design and how well it integrates with the work that has already been done.
If When this alteration is implemented, which was approved 7-1 I expect it will, it does not offer any left-turn remedy for businesses at the 25th Sideroad, or at St. John’s Road. Nor does it ‘save’ any money since the funds will be allocated to “other” road work. The bottom line is that the urbanization project doesn’t have the support of our car dependent residents and businesses. The process of creating a vibrant, mixed-use commercial core for all of Innisfil will likely just take that much longer to implement.
The task of creating a commercial core for Innisfil also faces other serious challenges. Although press reports suggest that Council will rezone the IBR commercial district for multi-use, multi-storey buildings to conform with Smart Growth planning policies, the existing municipal services are apparently inadequate to accommodate this plan. The Final Report of Inspiring Innisfil 2020 (page 12, Start by Making Alcona the Core, Key Actions) alludes to this by recommending:
- Undertake a study of major infrastructure at the same time as the OP review to ensure a strategic infrastructure and servicing plan supports major community developments such as an urban core.
The wheels of government turn exceedingly slowly and in the meantime, businesses need our help and need to help themselves. I’ll talk a little about that next.