MTO just keeping highways safe, rep says
By Chad Ingram
Published June 23, 2016
It’s an oft-heard complaint in the county that the Ministry of Transportation is overzealous when it comes to regulating entrances, signage, drainage, etc. along the Highway 35 and 118 corridors, but a rep from the MTO says the ministry is simply trying to keep the highways as safe as possible.
“The chamber has had a few members come forward to let us know that they’ve had struggles with the MTO (regarding entrance permits, signage, etc.),” Autumn Smith, member services representative for the Haliburton Highlands Chamber of Commerce, wrote in an email to the paper. “Based on what we know so far, our plan is to gather all of the information from our members regarding the challenges they are facing or have faced in the past with the MTO and how it impacted their business either in terms of general operations or development. Right now, I’m encouraging our members to reach out to me and tell me their stories/challenges. Our goal is to gather this information into some sort of report and look for support from the Ontario Chamber of Commerce to connect us with the right people at the MTO. We’re also looking into the possibility of partnering with other rural areas on this initiative.”
Construction on a strip mall at the intersection of Highway 35 and County Road 21 initially scheduled to be completed last year was delayed as owners met the requirements of the ministry. The MTO in turn required that the owners get approvals from the Ministry of Environment and Climate Change, which they are still waiting on and on which the province should issue a decision by the end of this month, an MOECC representatives recently told the paper.
When Minden’s Canadian Tire store was constructed a few years ago, there were issues getting an entranceway onto Highway 35, with the council and MPP of the day taking part in advocacy.
Terri Mathews-Carl, owner of Rhubarb restaurant along Highway 118 in Carnarvon, recently told the paper that while she understands the ministry has a job to do, it seems to be a bit overbearing when it comes to the granting of signage and entrances, treating the county more like an urban area than a small community.
A spokesperson for the MTO told the paper that while the ministry is supportive of local business development, it must maintain safety on the province’s highway network and keep traffic moving.
“The Ministry of Transportation is supportive of economic development while ensuring safe and efficient operations on provincial highways,” Gordan Rennie, a regional issues and media advisor with the MTO, wrote in an email. “It is the responsibility of development proponents to carry out all necessary studies, such as traffic, drainage, etc. to determine if their proposed development will negatively impact the highway network. These studies are reviewed and validated by the ministry. If the impacts can be mitigated, it is the responsibility of the proponent to fund and carry-out any highway improvements required for the new development. This also applies to the change of use of existing properties and entrances. In some cases, the highway cannot safely accommodate access to a proposed development and another method of access or location needs to be sought by the developer.
“Highway access management is a key method to promoting safety on all provincial highways. This is the process that manages entrances onto provincial highways, at highway interchanges and intersections, and onto municipal roads in the vicinity of a provincial highway. It is an important tool for balancing the need for highway safety and mobility while providing appropriate access for land development, as well as co-ordinating transportation planning with land use planning along provincial highways. Good access management minimizes the number of conflict points on the highway where a collision can occur and keeps traffic on provincial highways moving.”
The County of Haliburton has also had issues getting new promotional signage for Highway 35 approved through the province’s Tourism-Oriented Directional Signage program, although that program is under the auspices of the Ministry of Tourism, Culture and Sport.