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OPINION: Canatara crosswalk is an accident waiting to happen

Brian Clarke As spring approaches and we exchange our parkas for sandals and shorts, it’s a good time to examine the safety at one of Sarnia-Lambton’s busiest crosswalks.
Pedestrians use the busy crosswalk at Alfred Street in Point Edward to enter Canatara Park. Troy Shantz

Brian Clarke 

As spring approaches and we exchange our parkas for sandals and shorts, it’s a good time to examine the safety at one of Sarnia-Lambton’s busiest crosswalks.

The multiuse trail that runs through Canatara Park and crosses Alfred Street in Point Edward near the Sandy Lane apartments is used 365 days a year, a favorite of walkers, joggers, cyclists and skateboarders.

Seniors out for their morning exercise, and young moms and dads also heavily use it with strollers and young children in tow.

And during this pandemic - with outdoor activities so important – the trail and crosswalk have never been busier.

Let’s consider the factors that increase the chances of something bad happening there, at the boundary between Sarnia and Point Edward. For anyone unfamiliar with the location, it features four large apartment buildings at 1265, 1275, 1285 and 1295 Sandy Lane. Collectively they have parking spots for about 650 vehicles.

These buildings have a high concentration of seniors, so there is a steady flow of vehicles coming and going with visiting family members, health-care providers, property maintenance personnel, and grocery and pharmacy deliveries.

To the south, and right beside the Bluewater Trail, is a private laneway accessing Huron Yachts Marina. It has 69 boat berths, and the corresponding traffic of boat owners, family and friends, employees and service vehicles.

Then there is the constant stream of vehicles accessing Canatara Park from Sandy Lane during the 18 hours daily the park is open.

And last but not least, let's not forget the "Fast & Furious” crowd, which roars around the park in purposely un-muffled cars and trucks, then exits the park onto Sandy Lane and in a final disregard for safety accelerates aggressively toward the crosswalk.

If those factors don’t combine to create a perfect storm for a tragic and preventable accident, I don't know what does.

What safeguards are currently in place? Two small crosswalk signs attached to utility poles and a small, seasonal cone in the center of the road on a poorly defined crosswalk. One only needs to look at the crosswalk at Canatara Park’s other entrance, at Christina Street, to see the ideal solution.

The pedestrian crosswalk there is well defined and features flashing lights that can be activated by people crossing. Barring that, improvements could be made for far less.

Two 40-inch, high-visibility and reflective center-of-the road crosswalk signs would cost $700 delivered, and five gallons of premium yellow road-marking paint another $300. With the works department of Point Edward and/or Sarnia providing the labour, this accident-waiting-to-happen could be transformed in a day or two.

So let’s have Mayor Bradley and Mayor Hand join forces and put the wheels in motion to rectify this situation before something happens that everyone will regret.

Brian. L. Clarke is a retiree with a keen interest in history and local affairs

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