Changing Beacon Avenue in Sidney to a full two-way traffic flow from its current hodge-podge of two-and-one-way segments requires public debate.
To date, however, there has been very little of that and more of an effort has been made to put the matter on the back burner in hopes that it might simply go away.
The Town council is, however, now promising to open up the issue to public input sooner than later — but only just barely. Mayor Larry Cross used a rare portion of the Local Government Act that allows the mayor of a municipality to ask council to reconsider an issue on which they have already ruled. Cross suggested the staff research the two-way versus one-way debate, in advance of public strategic planning sessions this fall. It passed unanimously (Councillor Mervyn Lougher-Goodey, who has spoken out against considering change on Beacon, was not at that meeting).
The vote is a nod to the recent traffic movement study the Town commissioned in the spring. The consultants, Urban Systems, wasn’t specifically tasked with addressing Beacon’s unusual configuration in its report, but it did so in a limited way. They stated any change would have to be done in consultation with residents and business, while pointing out certain unintuitive aspects of the current flow of traffic.
That’s a feeling shared by some members of the downtown business community, who have taken up the cause to make all of Beacon Avenue a two-way street. Their ongoing pressure, and recommendations by the Town’s Community Development Committee, have prompted the mayor’s action.
It’s only a slight change in the Town’s current way of thinking on Beacon Avenue. To date, there has been little appetite to change it — and it might remain as-is in the end.
At least the Town appears more willing to get the work — and the public debate — started now, rather than keep the issue off the table and out of mind.