BLOG (Rachelle Niemela): Sudbury Cyclists Union Update on Silver Hills Subdivision

Feb 16, 2013

BLOG (Rachelle Niemela): Sudbury Cyclists Union Update on Silver Hills Subdivision

This post has not been approved by Media Co-op editors!

Back in October 2012, the SCU met with the City and with the developer of the new Silver Hills subdivision to discuss their proposed cycling infrastructure for the development. The meeting was initiated after an SCU member filed an appeal with the Ontario Municipal Board (OMB); the SCU had felt this was the way to go, as numerous requests for meetings had not been granted, and a presentation at the City’s Planning Committee did not result in any changes to the rezoning application’s details. The SCU supported including cycling infrastructure, but had some concerns about the actual configurations, which included a bi-directional cycling path on the east side of the street, and a proposed roundabout with no safe cycling provisions. The complete issue is described in a previous post:Silver Hills Post.

Since then, a follow up meeting with the City and developer in December 2012 unveiled additional information. There is another newly-constructed subdivision at the top of Silver Hills Drive. Part of the new subdivision is a bi-directional path for cyclists on the east side of the street. At the time of the December meeting, it was in the process of being paved. So we now had existing cycling infrastructure that had been implemented without consultation, and that needed to connect to the proposed cycling path. And it could not be changed.

Also, the west side of the drive had many more driveways and intersections than we had anticipated. This made our proposal of installing uni-directional paths problematic, because there would be connectivity issues with the bi-directional path at the top of the hill, and a path at the same level as the sidewalk on the east side (with those multiple driveways) would be dangerous.

At the time that these discussions were going on, it was very difficult to get information about the proposal, since the city’s website was being changed, and links did not work for the Planning Committee meetings. Also, requests for meetings had not been granted. Since then, the website has been corrected and information regarding the approval of the subdivision can be found here: Planning Committee Meeting June 25, 2012. The Silver Hills issue is number 5 on the agenda. You can see site plans and reports as attachments.

After two meetings and several calls between the appellant (an SCU member) and the lawyer for the developer, an agreement was reached and the issue was settled in mid-January 2013.

The outcome:

Condition No. 13 replaces the former condition which indicated that the design of the right-of-way must be “road-sidewalk-bike path” with a more flexible option.  As a result of this condition, if we remain diligent we can still have an impact on corridor design.

Condition No. 14 was revised to reflect the need to protect existing bike infrastructure near the intersection, and to consider the needs of cyclists during ingress/egress from the roundabout.  The City has confirmed that there will be additional public consultation regarding the roundabout, so we’ll need to pay attention and be sure to remain involved (it’s not clear to what extent the public will be consulted, or which public).

The new conditions read:

13.       That 3.0 metres of the Silver Hills Drive right-of-way will be set aside for appropriate paved bicycling infrastructure.

14.       That the owner prepare a functional design for a modern roundabout at the intersection of Bancroft Drive and Bellevue Avenue/Silver Hills Drive, and agrees to participate in the cost of its construction and the construction of Silver Hills Drive from the limits of the subdivision plan south of Bancroft Drive/Bellevue Avenue in accordance with the City’s cost sharing policy.  The functional design shall consider the existing cycling infrastructure present on Bancroft Drive and Bellevue Avenue, and the planned cycling infrastructure on Silver Hills Drive, and safe ingress/egress and travel for cyclists through the roundabout.  If a roundabout is not feasible, then a conventional signalized intersection with appropriate turn lanes will be required to the satisfaction of the General Manager of Infrastructure Services.

What did we learn from this?

It is to note that there was minimal public consultation, and that only because the Minnow Lake CAN (Community Action Network) raised the issue; the developer had one public consultation session at Minnow Lake Place. A request for a support letter from the Sustainable Mobility Advisory Panel was requested, which was granted because cycling infrastructure was part of the plan, but no discussions were held with the panel (the consultation consisted of emails to members asking for support). Also, that letter was not part of the official record of the Planning Committee meeting. Cyclists, including the SCU, were not consulted as a stakeholder group.

It is unfortunate that an OMB appeal had to be filed in order for discussions to be held. It could have been avoided if proper consultation had been done at the beginning of the process. The SCU has no wish to obstruct cycling infrastructure development, but we do want our tax dollars to be spent wisely on the right implementations.

The SCU is pleased that the City is now wanting to ensure that cycling and pedestrian infrastructure is part of all new development in Sudbury. The fact that the conditions for the rezoning approval included the requirement for such infrastructure is very positive and encouraging.

But we sorely need proper community consultation about cycling infrastructure implementation, as well as real structure to guide such implementation. This means developing a vision, guiding principles, and appropriate resulting bylaws and budgets. Let’s hope that the Official Plan review and the Transportation Study result in a proper “Cycling Plan” for Sudbury. And soon.

This post was originally posted here, on the Sudbury Cyclists Union website.