Letter to the Editor: Winter Avenue Needs to Chill Out

It's just nuts.

I’m a fan of Emily Deming’s web column, From the Rafters: This Week’s City Council Meeting Recap, and especially a fan of her calm and recent commentary in July 13th’s column.

It was announced in that week’s city council meeting that all councillors once again cowered to the demands of a handful of residents, this time on Winter Avenue. As a result, the city will enstate another random one-way street, messing up the flow of traffic, and forcing many of us to take the long way home, or else, pull dangerous illegal moves to get where we’re going.

Apparently the residents’ appeal to council will see a trial experiment, restricting traffic from entering their street from Kingsbridge Rd. To quote Deming’s recap, “The residents have been complaining about speeding on their street for a while. Though so has everyone on every street. But their street is very pretty.”

Not to mention, council is feeling sheepish with regards to Winter Avenue, no doubt, since the demolition of a 125 year old heritage property on that street in 2015.

The thing is, there wouldn’t even be a “traffic problem” on Winter Avenue if our city planners could plan a little better. We erected a big Dominion in the area without providing a left exit to the hundreds of people coming out of that Dominion every day.

As a result, drivers HAVE to head right, and the first street they can take to turn around on, and head back to their homes, is Winter Avenue. So they do. It’s really obvious why that formerly quiet street has a lot of traffic now.

People leaving Dominion must pull an immediate, illegal U-turn on Winter Ave., or make a cul-de-sac turnaround on Judge Place, or zoom angrily up Winter Ave, annoyed they couldn’t turn left coming out of Dominion.

So that’s the problem, and closing off Winter Avenue to those people forced to use it won’t solve that problem. Closing off Winter Avenue will, however, piss off and inconvenience a LOT of people. Far more people will suffer, because a few folks on Winter Avenue don’t like the putt putt of cars on their road.

Who knows where they’ll have to drive off to to turn around now that Winter Avenue is being closed off to them. We can expect a lot of U-turns on The Boulevard I guess, or we can expect calmer drivers to take a scenic loop around The Boulevard, and through Quidi Vidi (pissing off those already pissy folks). Having to take such detours to get from Dominion to downtown or centre city is nuts. It’s just nuts. The alternative is a drive up New Cove to Elizabeth Avenue, and take Elizabeth Avenue to find a way back downtown. Nuts.

And it’s not just the huge flaw in city planning and councillor cowardice that’s nuts here. So to is the sense of entitlement townies have over their roads. I think Deming hit it on the head in her column, so instead of stealing her thunder in paraphrasing, here are a few lines from her column:

” … But what is more important than even one stupid new traffic complication in an already mangled city, is the trend towards neighbourhoods, blocks really, saying of a street, ‘this is ours.’ Because it isn’t.

“On Barnes Rd., the city just approved a survey to see if residents want to move to resident permit parking only. I live on Barnes and I can tell you it is not needed. But, like the Monkstown and William Street surveys last season, residents will flock to say it is needed because everyone feels they own the street in front of their home.

“There is always parking here. I have never had to walk more than a quarter block in 5 years. There is a direct line from those people who leave crazed and angry notes on a car that is parked ‘in their spot on a public street, to directing traffic so as to cut off non-residents.

“My neighbourhood isn’t mine. I own my house, not the damn streets. We share the streets. Sharing is messy and annoying and you will never get your own way. People you don’t like will cut through your neighbourhood, and they will cut through it all wrong. But if you let those streets that are already paved with gold and good intentions start enacting barriers, our city will lose the chaotic and egalitarian blood-flow that makes it not suck like other cities.”

Tip of the hat here, to the one councillor who hesitated. Cllr Puddister piped up and pointed out that the previous restrictions on Empire and Circular have caused this issue, and added that this new decision will make even more of a mess near that Dominion. But then he too approved it.

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  • My issue with Winter Ave is the name. We hardly get any summer here, yet we name streets “Winter Ave”. C’mon St. John’s – get it together. Can’t wait for the next election… that’ll show them.

  • If the drive home from Dominion down by the lake upsets you, need I remind you that there is 2 other supermarkets within 2 km. We Newfoundlanders love our supermarkets, they are everywhere! If the author lives on Barnes Road, why not go to Sobeys on Merrymeeting Road, heck he or she could walk there in 5 minutes and leave his car parked at home! Newfoundlanders love their cars almost as much as their supermarkets! And yes, I am a born and raised Newfoundlander!

  • I’ve got a better idea: get rid of the Dominion. Allowing a suoerstore in the middle of a very busy recreational park was the stupidest decision of all – busy dinner time shoppers zooming through the neighbourhood while children are making their way to the soccer field, telly 10 runners are jogging in groups along the road, and dog walkers are trying to find some peace after a busy work day. Not to mention the amount of garbage produced. “flyers” has a new meaning to me now. Everyday I discover weekly speacials as I pick up Dominion flyers from the bushes and shoreline. The ducks have to paddle around plastic bags. I don’t want to think about the number of bags sitting at the bottom of that lake now. It’s such a beautiful natural and public area. How the Dominion was ever allowed to happen is bewildering.

    • umm, so all runners are “Telly” 10″ runners? You know that the Tely10 has no relation to this neighbourhood? I agree about the supermarket – but it is a battle lost. Time to move on and work with the consequences.

  • How about photo radar, since all you idiots who are angry about this are SURELY law abiding drivers who observe the speed limit 100% of the time. I live on Winter Ave and have seen the pair of new electric speed radar signs flashing more than double the 30km/h limit just about every day.

    • Those radar signs are more of a nuisance than anything else. Sometimes people need to travel west from Quidi Vidi lake and Dominion. Blocking off all practical routes just adds congestion to those that remain. Of course, using the logic of the Winter avenue residents… why not move if you feel that your street is too busy?

  • Interesting. I’m a cyclist. Winter Ave is one of the streets I use in that part of the city to stay away from busier roads. So, now, I won’t be permitted (same rules) to cycle West on this quiet street and will be forced to use a (now even) busier street to go west from the area… and, no doubt, piss off even more the already frustrated motorists.

    • I agree with the argument that city streets belong to everyone, not just homeowners. I also agree that the city has made a mess of traffic in this whole part of town. On the other hand, this writer seems to equate “public” with motorists and their convenience. As a cyclist, drivers making that left hand turn onto Winter Avenue have nearly been my undoing more than once. People in this city drive way too fast on residential streets and the very clear evidence is that they put cyclists and pedestrians in harm’s way in the process. If we really want to reclaim St. John’s as a public city with a vital street scene that is good for local business and life in general, we need to shift away from always giving priority to motor vehicles, which by design isolate and alienate people from each other and the world around them. We especially need to do so in the city core. (I also drive and I think that the price of driving should be “inconvenience” once in a while, if it makes life safer and pleasanter for those who don’t happen to be behind the wheel at any given moment.) Perhaps we should make Winter Avenue one-way for drivers and install a two way-bike lane at the same time.

    • According to the city announcement, it’s only motorists who are no longer permitted to enter Winter Avenue from King’s Bridge Road. Winter Avenue itself will remain two way. So you can still cycle through it.

  • Why does the city allow people to make a left turn into Dominion parking lot this just holds up people driving up Kings Bridge Road?

    Horrible decision re Winter Avenue

  • This is absolutely ridiculous. God, I can’t wait for the municipal election in September. I wish they’d clear the decks of all the council, there’s only one or two councillors who actually have a brain cell or two and actually care about positive growth and progress in this mess of a city. Changing Winter Ave. to a one-way street will do nothing to solve the speeding issue, and will just cause congestion elsewhere. Typical St. John’s Useless City Council giving into whiney constituents.

  • People coming out of Dominion could turn left onto Lake Ave and then turn left onto the Boulevard and then turn left on King’s Bridge to head back downtown. It’s a bit of a detour but not really that far so pulling a U-turn isn’t their *only* option for leaving Dominion and heading south on Kings Bridge.

  • Why not just leave Dominion and take Carnell Drive, turn left at the Blvd, and left at Kings Bridge Road? It’s not that complicated.

  • Yes the Dominion is geared towards people coming in from further out of town. But God forbid you are a driving resident of the downtown area. A left turn out of that parking lot would be such an improvement. Customers should not have to loop around to The Blvd to head back downtown.

  • Woo, boy. What kind of moron thinks that making a road one way will decrease speeding?? I’ve seen this happen on several roads like this, and the problem is, people now know there is no traffic coming the other way, so they can speed more!

    This city is always so damn short-sighted, it’s laughable. We need to hire some actual civil engineers, ones that have actually been to other cities. From the 13+ years I’ve lived here, I’ve some some mind-boggling decisions in city planning made by people with obviously no clue.

    • You may be right. However, in this instance, the complaint is not speeding, so much as just increased flow of traffic.

    • Jason I’d agree Jason. I live on Linscott street which was converted to a one way street a few years ago. I only moved in last year, so after the change, but everyday I notice cars speeding down the street going way faster then they drive on the surrounding streets. Some even accelerate the whole length only to slam the breaks when they reach the stop sign. It doesn’t help that many times a day someone without a clue or who doesn’t care will drive up the street the wrong way.

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