Engagement report: winter and spring 2023
The City of Kington is undertaking Phase Two of the Williamsville Main Street Study, focusing on updates to the multi-modal transportation network along Princess Street from east of Bath Road and Concession Street to Division Street.
In 2020, a transportation operations study was completed to assess the changes that would be required to support intensification within the Williamsville area without requiring road widening. The operational study identified the need for significant improvements to pedestrian, cycling, and transit facilities to shift travel dependency away from the private automobile. One of the key recommendations that stemmed from the study was for the City to reconsider how the right-of-way along Princess Street was being utilized. Princess Street is identified as an arterial road, cycling spine, as well as a transit priority corridor. The design of Princess Street also needs to be compliant with the Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act (AODA). In the initial phase, it was confirmed that the Princess Street corridor can accommodate projected transportation demand provided a significant proportion of trips are made through walking, cycling, and transit use. Accomplishing this goal will require wide, inviting, and safe facilities for these modes. The physical limits of the narrow Princess Street right-of-way will make this a challenge.
In 2022, the City of Kingston contracted Dillon Consulting Limited to complete a study identifying the constraints, potential operational improvements, modal priorities, and feasible alternative cross-sections for the Princess Street corridor. Staff sought input from members of the public through the City’s Get Involved engagement page to develop a preferred cross-section design. Members of the public were able to review the cross-section design alternatives and provide input between February 13, 2023, to March 7, 2023. Following the online engagement period, City staff were invited to present the alternative cross-sections at the Williamsville Community Association Town Hall.
This report provides an overview of the Get Involved engagement period, including the comments received during the February and March 2023 period, as well as a summary of the presentation and discussion outcomes from the Williamsville Community Association Town Hall.
The City of Kingston residents and businesses were notified about the Williamsville Main Street Transportation Study via the “Get Involved” engagement page as part of the February 13, 2023, to March 7, 2023 review and commenting period. Notifications related to the Williamsville Community Association Town Hall were handled directly by the Association. City staff received an invitation to present at the Williamsville Community Association Town Hall, which took place on April 13. 2023.
Purpose of the spring 2023 engagement
The City retained Dillon Consulting in the Spring of 2022 to proceed with Phase Two of the Williamsville Main Street Transportation Study, building upon the recommendations stemming out of the Phase One work (2020). In Phase Two, the City sought to develop a strategy that would encourage a shift in travel behaviour as a mechanism to reduce dependency on private vehicle use. With this approach, the City intended to prioritize walking, transit use and cycling, thus providing a range of mobility choices to support the needs of current and future residents of the Williamsville neighbourhood area.
The purpose of the Spring 2023 online engagement session was to collect feedback on one of the alternative cross-sections that was developed for Princess Street, between the intersections of Bath Road/Concession Street and Division Street. A comprehensive mapping tool was also shared which illustrated where alternate cycling routes, such as Neighbourhood Bikeways, could be implemented throughout the broader Williamsville neighbourhood. Alternative cycling routes would be particularly important if cycling lanes were removed from Princess Street and would encourage increased cycling regardless. In addition to the mapping tool, one conceptual render was developed and uploaded to the project webpage which offered participants a visual representation of the proposed improvements relative to the existing conditions. Proposed improvements included: the widening of sidewalks; the addition of street trees, benches, and other streetscaping elements; and the addition of measures that prioritize transit to meet increased travel demands. The alternative presented in April included the removal of existing on-street parking and cycle lanes to create additional space for streetscaping. The transit priority elements included transit priority signals and queue jump lanes. Queue jump lanes are dedicated travel lanes for transit vehicles on the approach to signalized intersections. Transit priority was shown on the conceptual render to solicit feedback from members of the public.
Presented conceptual design
The conceptual design presented at the April Town Hall included a single alternative cross-section design option for Princess Street. The public was provided with renderings of the potential future cross-section, along with plans that illustrated changes along the length of the corridor. The plans illustrated widened sidewalks along the entirety of the corridor and identified areas that could be designated as extra space to accommodate amenities such as green features like street trees and furnishings. This alternative removed cycling lanes and on-street parking from Princess Street.
Figure 1 through Figure 4 illustrates the proposed concept along Princess Street.
The proposed changes to the roadway, which impact vehicular traffic, are listed below. The changes proposed at Albert Street are illustrated in Figure 5.
- Narrowing of vehicular lanes from 3.5 m to 3.3 m;
- Removal of on-street parking;
- Proposed signalization of the Princess Street/Drayton Avenue intersection (including pedestrian crossing facilities);
- Implementation of a curbside queue jump lane for westbound buses and transit signal priority at Drayton Street;
- A curbside queue jump lane for westbound buses and transit signal priority at the Princess Street and Albert Street intersection;
- The removal of the existing left turn lanes on Princess Street at Albert Street to accommodate the queue jump lane; and
- Addition of left turn lanes on Princess Street at Nelson Street to offset the loss of lanes at Albert Street.
Existing and proposed and existing cycling routes were identified within an online map tool (Figure 6), which the public was asked to comment on. Committed future cycling routes were also shown on the mapping tool as a means of illustrating connectivity and enhancement of routes as identified in the Active Transportation Management Plan (ATMP).
What we heard
Through the Get Involved engagement page, members of the public were encouraged to review the materials posted online, ask relevant questions, and provide their feedback through an online commenting form. There was also an option for emailing input. Members of the public were able to provide input between February 13, 2023, and March 7, 2023. A total of 325 comments were received. All feedback received was reviewed by the Project Team. The following sections of this report summarize feedback, grouped into themes.
There was an overall positive reaction to improving the pedestrian realm from members of the public. One participant specifically called for wayfinding signs to support improved pedestrian experience. Additional pedestrian improvement recommendations included street lighting and public street art.
Overall, there was strong support for a wider pedestrian realm along Princess Street. Ten participants responded that the street design along Princess Street should cater to the experience of pedestrians and transit users instead of vehicles. The participants positively viewed the potential for wider sidewalks, noting that the current sidewalks along Princess Street are narrow. Two participants suggested the pedestrian realm could further benefit from the removal of car infrastructure, such as on-street parking.
Three participants commented on street trees, all in favour of their implementation. Two of the comments noted that they would improve the pedestrian experience along Princess Street by making the street more attractive and inviting. The third comment noted that trees along the Princess Street corridor could provide shade during the summer.
There was a total of seven participants who commented about rest areas. All seven participants supported the idea of including rest areas along Princess Street. The rest areas could include benches, planters, art installations, and wayfinding signs. As a starting point, the participants noted the following intersections as potential locations for rest areas:
- Northwest or northeast corners of Memorial Centre property;
- Alfred Street and Princess Street;
- Frontenac Street and Princess Street; and
- Outside popular retail/restaurant locations.
Twenty-two (22) participants who provided comments on Pedestrian Realm noted safety as a concern for pedestrians. They also highlight the desire for crosswalks at various locations within the study area. They included:
- Pine Street and Alfred Street;
- Toronto Street and Park Street;
- Normal Rogers and Palace Road;
- Brock and Johnson; and
- Victoria Park (Frontenac Street).
Winter maintenance was also noted as a priority for the pedestrian and sidewalks.
Loss of bike lanes on Princess Street
A total of 42 participants provided feedback on the loss of bike lanes along Princess Street. The general consensus was dissatisfaction with the removal of cycling facilities along the corridor. Thirty-nine (39) respondents stated that they did not support removing the cycling lanes, and ten emphasized the importance of prioritizing active transportation along the corridor. Feedback emphasized the fact that the existing cycling lanes provide the most direct access to key destinations along Princess Street. Instead of removing them, participants highlighted the need for protected lanes to encourage use.
Participants observed that if Princess Street were to lose its cycling lanes, cycling traffic may shift to Brock Street and Johnson Street. The opposition was in part due to discomfort using the existing facilities on those streets due to the volume and speed of vehicular traffic. The public indicated that physical barriers would be required for Brock Street and Johnson Street to feel safe.
There was a total of 21 participants who voiced concerns about cycling traffic on adjacent streets. They requested confirmation regarding how new developments along Princess Street will connect to the external cycling network.
Neighbourhood bike routes
Neighbourhood bikeways were presented as part of this engagement. Participants were able to provide their feedback on the proposed routes and the overall concept of neighbourhood bikeways. In general, participant feedback was positive and many participants believed that neighbourhood bikeways could help connect cyclists to more locations. More widely, participants expressed the need for improved lighting and safety measures for cyclists.
Support for neighbourhood bikeways
Feedback regarding Neighbourhood Bikeways was generally positive. A total of 48 participants indicated support for neighbourhood bikeways as they would provide a safer means of transportation within Williamsville. Ten participants stated that the infrastructure on these routes must be of good quality and include safety features to encourage their use. Improvements could include improved lighting, wayfinding, protected buffers, and pavement quality. Two active cyclists noted that they currently use side streets to get around the city because they find the cycling infrastructure along Princess Street unsafe. Traffic calming measures were encouraged to address safety concerns.
Concerns regarding proposed neighbourhood bikeways
A total of 20 participants made comments regarding concerns about the Neighbourhood Bikeways. Five participants expressed concern about Victoria Street and one participant about Alfred Street due to their high traffic volumes. Four participants recommended that MacDonnell Street would make a better north-south connecting route. Three comments noted that neighbourhood bikeways must have clear connections into the city’s broader cycling network, with consideration given to routes that intersect Princess Street and other dedicated facilities.
Concerns regarding impacts on vehicular traffic
Ten participants noted concerns regarding impacts to vehicular traffic, primarily focused on the removal of on-street parking.
In terms of managing vehicular movement, three participants commented on the concerns associated with crossing at intersections for both pedestrians and cyclists. It was noted that the intersections at Nelson Street and Regent Street do not have traffic signals. This, combined with the high volumes of vehicular traffic makes it difficult for pedestrians and cyclists to cross. One participant also noted that the northbound left turn lane at Division Street and Princess Street should be removed since it is not safe for cyclists or pedestrians.
Support for transit priority
Generally, there was strong support for improving transit service along Princess Street. Two participants noted that improvements to transit priority should coincide with improvements made to the pedestrian realm. Two additional participants stated that they hope that additional transit priority measures are added such as additional queue jump lanes or full transit priority throughout the Princess Street corridor.
Cost and timeline
The City also received comments regarding the potential financial resources required for implementing the improvements along Princess Street.
Cost of proposed changes
Three participants commented on the cost of the proposed changes, stating that a dedicated left turn lane on MacDonnell Street should not be provided given the street is a local road and should not be relied on as a north-south connector. Another participant stated that they would prefer that cycling facilities be fully separated, believing on-street cycling lanes would not be financially sustainable for the City if there are not a significant number of users.
Williamsville Community Association Town Hall
City staff were invited to a community-led Town Hall hosted by the Williamsville Community Association on April 13, 2023. City staff were asked to present the proposed alternative and respond at a question period at the end of the presentation.
No written comments were specifically collected during the Town Hall. Instead, attendees had an opportunity to ask questions following the presentation with verbal responses provided by City staff. The comments shared at the Town Hall largely reflected those that were shared through the Get Involved engagement page. Many attendees voiced concerns about the removal of the bike lanes on Princess Street. On the other hand, many expressed approval for the removal of on-street parking along Princess Street. With the removal of on-street parking, attendees encouraged the City to explore shifting parking to surrounding local streets. There were some attendees that approved of the proposed design and the idea to widen the pedestrian realm and add additional street trees. Attendees were also generally supportive of the improvements to transit and proposed design upgrades to implement a more pedestrian-friendly corridor.
At the Town Hall, attendees noted that the decision-making and engagement process was not fully transparent and many would have appreciated additional information about the Study. Many attendees noted that it was unclear why trade-offs between modes of transportation were required. This concern was the driving force behind the Open House planned for October 2023.
Results and looking forward
The Project Team has reviewed the comments received online and at the Town Hall. At this time, the feedback indicates a strong preference for keeping cycling lanes on Princess Street, widening the pedestrian realm, and transit priority initiatives. The addition of more cycling infrastructure within the Williamsville neighbourhood was positively viewed. However, participants expressed their preference for protected cycling lanes as opposed to shared facilities along these routes.
There were concerns with the lack of crosswalks and signalized intersections at various locations along Princess Street, making it difficult for cyclists and pedestrians to cross. There were also safety concerns regarding bike lanes along Brock Street and Johnson Street.
The Project Team will explore ways to incorporate the feedback raised through the Get Involved engagement page and Town Hall. This will include reviewing the feasibility of maintaining cycling lanes on Princess Street and implementation of additional cycling facilities within Williamsville. The following main themes/priorities will be explored across multiple alternatives to arrive at a preferred design:
- Pedestrian volumes and potential uses within the right-of-way;
- Accessibility requirements;
- Transit operations;
- Cycling routes, connections, and operations;
- Motor vehicle operations;
- Constructability; and
- Parking considerations.
Based on the feedback received through this round of Spring 2023 Engagement, City staff have decided to proceed with an additional community engagement session in the Fall of 2023. The goal of this session will be to provide a concise summary of the analysis undertaken to arrive at the short list of alternatives and recommendations for moving forward. The results of the next engagement session will be used to inform the Final Report to City Council, highlighting the outcomes of the analysis, recommended solutions, and next steps for Neighbourhood Bikeways.