• Hunter Cresswell

Debate heats up over Hwy 105 speed

Councillor: Hwy 105 speed survey to come

Update: Chelsea council unanimously voted to reduce the speed limit from 70 to 50 km/h on Hwy 105 from Chemin des Bois-Francs to Chemin du Grand-Boisé in Larrimac during its March 9 council meeting.

Ever heard of a highway with a 50 km/h speed limit? If some residents get their way, there will be one in Chelsea.

The Chelsea council on March 9, after this edition’s publishing deadline, was set to decide whether or not to reduce the speed limit on Hwy 105 in Larrimac from 70 to 50 km/h. The council’s discussion about this change at the February council meeting irked some residents enough that they expressed their opinions on the change through social media.

Dominic Valerio of Wakefield caught air at Larrimac Golf Club’s sledding hill. With the residential development and year-round recreation activities, including golf, cross-country skiing, and sledding at the Larrimac Golf Club, Chelsea council voted to reduce the speed on Hwy 105 in that area from 70 to 50 km/h. Kate Baillie photo

Some have said they think it’s ridiculous that the speed limit on a highway that used to be 90 km/h could be reduced to 50 km/h, while others said it’s ridiculous that traffic is still allowed to drive at 70 km/h along a road where people road bike and go for walks with children or pets. Some even said that the entire highway should be reduced to 50 km/h from the Tulip Valley intersection south.

Ever willing to get in the middle of it, The Low Down asked for residents to email in their thoughts on the proposed speed change in Larrimac and the idea of reducing the rest of the highway to 50 km/h. We also reached out to Chelsea Ward 3 councillor and public works committee chair Greg McGuire for comment.

“This particular proposal comes from the Chelsea Highlands development,” McGuire said, adding that there’s no decision at the council level to reduce the speed limit along the entire highway.

Chelsea Highlands is the residential development on the previously undeveloped land owned by the Larrimac Golf Club. The road to get to the development is just north along the highway and around the corner from the club. A traffic study conducted in that area concluded that traffic should be slowed to a maximum of 50 km/h for 500 metres on either side of the new road to the Highlands development, McGuire said.

“We did have quite a debate about the 105 as a whole,” he added about the public works committee. “There is as much evidence to say that it should be lowered to 50 as there is evidence to keep it at 70.”

“We’re going to have a survey on that,” McGuire added, in reference to lowering the speed limit along the entire highway south of the intersection of the highway at River Road and Tulip Valley.

‘The only reason we’re doing a survey is because, from a technical standpoint, (the evidence) is inconclusive,” he said, but a timeline on that survey was not provided.

All but one Chelsea resident who reached out to The Low Down with input were for reducing the speed limit along Hwy 105, whether it be just in Larrimac or the highway as a whole.

Montreal-based musician Josh Dolgin was raised along Hwy 105 near Larrimac and has been living there the past year during the pandemic. He said he originally posted on Chelsea community groups on Facebook about the speed limit change in his neighbourhood, but that conversation was “hijacked” to talk about lowering the speed limit along the entire road.

“This could be an interesting talk worth discussing if there was any demonstrable danger ... There isn't! I spoke to a council person and they told me: there is literally zero evidence that the road is dangerous because of speeding. Seventy [kilometres an hour] is not too fast. It's already been brought down from the 90 that I grew up with on the highway. The new highway, the safer shoulders, the multi-million dollar community pathway have all made the 105 a demonstrably, statistically, actually safe road,” Dolgin wrote.

“I was raised to respect and fear the necessary, efficient road that allows us to live in the country. You don't play on the road,” Dolgin wrote.

Gleneagle resident Ray Folkins wrote in an email that he doesn’t know Dolgin, but that he’s “completely off the rails” with his opinions.

“I live along Hwy 105 between Musie Loop and Chemin Gleneagle and cars almost daily go by my house at over 100 km/h on the straight stretch. It's ridiculous and extremely dangerous. I've been living here for six years and never once have seen a police car catch anyone speeding. The police obviously do not watch this stretch of the 105,” he wrote.

Marie-Claude Mongeon lives along Hwy 105 south of its intersection with Old Chelsea Road. She said that lowering the speed limit in Larrimac is a good idea, but finds it “deplorable” that the speed limit reduction is considered because of a specific development. She said she’s written to the municipality several times about the increased traffic on the highway near her home, but has never gotten a reply.

“So, reducing the speed limit on the 105 is great to encourage active commuting, safety for all – not just for kids – and community building, but it should not be limited only to those areas that have projects, which have more influence than individual citizens, who quietly make due with living here,” Mongeon wrote.

Chelsea resident Stéphane Guertin wrote that Hwy 105 is not a safe zone for his small children and that reducing the speed limit is just part of the solution. All the blind spots and curves could be made safer with traffic mirrors and stop signs, and the shoulders could be safer for cyclists and walkers if they are widened.

“That’s my two cents,” Guertin wrote.

Otiena Ellwand just bought a home along Hwy 105 and, as a soon-to-be-Chelsea resident, she said she supports lowering the speed limit. She said reducing the speed limit will make it safer for cyclists and the entire community.

“It is not necessary for it to be 70 km/h and it doesn't make sense that it should be — that's why we have Hwy 5. I understand that it is an important transportation corridor for many of us, but it is no longer a highway and it shouldn't be treated as such,” Ellwand wrote.

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