Letters from Minnow Lake CAN prompt MOE review
Members of a community action network (CAN) in Minnow Lake were unaware that just complaining to the province was enough to delay the $5.7-million road work planned for Second Avenue this year.
At a meeting Tuesday evening at the Legion Hall on Weller Street, Minnow Lake CAN members John Lindsay and Dot Klein said the fact the Ministry of Environment is delaying the project until their concerns are investigated is proof their complaints have merit.
“Dot and I are not responsible for the delay,” Lindsay said. “That's the Ministry of the Environment. As a result, the project is not taking place at this time.”
However, Kate Jordan, a communications officer with the Ministry of the Environment, said once environmental concerns have been filed with the ministry, an automatic review process begins.
Once the concerns are filed, the municipality is informed and given time to respond to those concerns. Once the MOE has that information, the ministry will determine whether the complaints have merit.
When asked if there is a vetting process to determine quickly whether complaints have merit, Jordan said that's what they're doing now.
“That's the purpose of the review, to determine whether further action or further study is warranted.”
When asked about the contradiction, Lindsay said they thought only complaints with merit were investigated.
“That's not what our understanding was in conversations with the ministry,” he said.
Klein and Lindsay's complaints relate to concerns about increased air pollution and storm water runoff that could result from the road and sewer reconstruction project. Lindsay said expanding the road to five lanes from two would triple the amount of untreated stormwater that will find its way into Ramsey Lake.
And Klein's complaint was related to increased vehicle exhaust emissions that could result from the project. Both also supported putting in a roundabout at the intersection of Scarlet Drive, instead of a traffic light.
“Second Avenue isn't pretty, but a roundabout would make it prettier,” Lindsay said.
All he's asking for is more options than the city is providing, he said, and suggested consultants be hired to take another look at plans for Second Avenue, outside of the “supposed experts” working for city staff.
“I always like to have a number of opinions before I make a decision,” Lindsay said. “Are we really spending our $5 million or $6 million the right way?”
But some in the crowd were upset that a solution to a longstanding traffic jam in their neighbourhood was going to be delayed for at least a year. That stretch of Second handles 15,000 cars a day, and is particularly congested during rush hour.
“It's bumper-to-bumper traffic there from 4-5:30 every day,” one man said. “Why is this project being delayed? Two letters can delay a $6-million project?”
Another resident blasted what he called the “anti-progress CAN” and wondered how much more the project would cost next year.
“There's going to be pollution no matter what,” the resident said. “Why is there this backlash? You are going to be blamed for the delay.”
Dave Shelsted, the city's director of roads, said his staff supports roundabouts, and they will be part of the $125-million Maley Drive extension. But that section of Second Avenue is too narrow to put in the two-lane roundabout required to handle the traffic volume.
“We are actually proponents of roundabouts,” Shelsted said.
But in this case, the project would have to be redesigned to take out parts of the Civic Cemetery, the dog park, and land would have to be acquired from the nearby strip mall.
Lindsay said he has received a lot of calls and emails from people in the area who like the project and are not happy that it's being delayed for a year. But he has no regrets.
“I would have felt bad if I wasn't doing this,” he said. “Our role (as a CAN) is to present options and alternatives. We're role models for the rest of the city.”