A “non-intrusive” roadway? Not so fast!

Responding to the December 11 front-page Whig article “King’s Town Squeeze” (check it out if you haven’t read it yet), Joseph Kotowicz wrote the following letter to the editor, published on December 18.

I don’t know if anyone has noticed, but all of the streets in downtown Kingston are residential streets, even the ones designated as arterial.

History has defined these streets.

Now we have a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to create a true arterial street directly to and from downtown “with little” interference on residents in this area, namely the Wellington Street extension. Without this road, all streets in this area will be affected by increased traffic flow as developments proceed in the downtown core. With this road, much of the stop-and-go traffic will be alleviated. So which do you prefer?

A lot of Kingstonians live on these residential streets and should be concerned, but not this area’s councillor. Kingston only has one downtown and it must thrive.

And connecting this road to the non-residential arterial road, John Counter Boulevard, will create a non-intrusive roadway from and to the downtown. And eventually collect the traffic from a new causeway.

The original plan for the Wellington Street extension was and still is to co-exist with Doug Fluhrer Park, not go through it, as some say. The plan is even more imperative today and needs to be brought to fruition quickly.

The extension of the Cataraqui Trail to Doug Fluhrer Park is a great beginning.

Four responses take issue with Mr. Kotowicz’s view:

Letter writer Joseph Kotowicz refers to the original plan for the Wellington Street extension but fails to mention that plan is over 40 years old. Surely in this 21st century we can come up with a convenient, affordable public transportation plan that would relieve downtown congestion, thus reducing traffic on “residential” streets. Fewer cars in the downtown area is what we should be striving for, and upgrading public transit to reduce single occupancy is more feasible economically than building a road.

Should we not be looking for ways to preserve green spaces and the wildlife they harbour? Doug Fluhrer Park has well over 100 species, some of which are already threatened or endangered, living within its boundaries. City parks should not be created as “scenic drive thrus” but rather as areas to be leisurely enjoy both by residents and visitors. With the increasing number of condo developments in the downtown area, the need for more quiet, walkable, playable green space will be required. A three-metre-wide K&P Trail is already approved to cut through Doug Fluhrer Park. Let’s avoid running an arterial street through it as well and take the Wellington Street extension out of the transportation plan once and for all.

Audrey Helmstaedt, December 22

In his letter, Joseph Kotowicz seems determined that Kingston needs a “non-residential major arterial road” directly into downtown – his words.

There are many opposing views to be made, ranging from climate change and carbon reduction through sustainability to wildlife protection. However, a simple factual correction will do for now.

Kotowicz states “The original plan for the Wellington Street Extension was and still is to co-exist with Doug Fluhrer Park, not go through it, as some people say.”  True, the proposed Wellington Street extension would initially use the old railbed but, as the park narrows, it will encroach severely on the park at the narrowest point and leave only a thin sliver of green between road and water. This suggests going through the park.

Co-existence is, ideally, peaceful. However, Kotowicz’s “major arterial road” would cut off the park from the local area, severely limit access, prohibit the free running and games of children while routing traffic beside a downtown green space that is slender in the first place. Hardly peaceful co-existence.

Mike Cole-Hamilton, December 28

I’d like to respond to Joseph Kotowicz’s letter (“Street extension would help traffic flow,” Dec. 18). Many people already commute through Doug Fluhrer Park — on foot and by bike. One of the reasons that the park is attractive for these commuters is that there are no cars along this route. How rare!

Perhaps, for once, priority should be given to those who walk or cycle to work.

Anne Lougheed, December 30

Joseph Kotowicz suggests the need for the proposed Wellington Street extension to deal with increased traffic on his particular street, Montreal Street. There is a more sustainable and less expensive way. As Coun. Richard Allen from Countryside has pointed out, 70 per cent of the residents of South Frontenac work in Kingston. Most of these workers drive downtown in single-occupant vehicles. Kingston taxpayers are already heavily subsidizing parking for commuters. Now with the construction of the new parking facility near the K-Rock Centre, we are subsidizing even more — at least $65,000 per new parking space.

If a reliable transit system (express buses) were in place, people from Elginburg and Glenburnie could park outside the city core and use transit to travel downtown. Transit routes could also serve those using a new causeway. Then Mr. Kotowicz would not have to worry about increased traffic on his street. The Doug Fluhrer Park could remain the incredible wildlife park it is for all Kingston citizens to enjoy.

The Wellington extension is hugely expensive and unnecessary.

Elizabeth Durno, December 31

Thanks to those who have taken the time to speak up in public about the WSE. We will need more letter-writers and public intervenors in 2016 and we know many of you will come forward!

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