By Marianne Curtis
Construction of a new $7.8 million affordable housing facility in Ste. Anne could get delayed if the Town of Ste. Anne and the Villa Youville board of directors can not agree to the placement of a crosswalk.
In June, construction of a new twenty-four unit housing facility by the Villa Youville got underway as per plans presented to the Town of Ste. Anne over a year ago. The plans included placement of the building, driveways and entrances to the facility.
Now, the Villa Youville is afraid the project will come to a screeching halt over placement of a crosswalk that would give direct access to Villa residents to the north side of the busy Dawson Trail Road. There is a current crosswalk in place, which was built adjacent to the front door of the old facility. The front door of the new facility is located further west so the Villa Youville board applied to relocate the current crosswalk to the more convenient location. However, the Town of Ste. Anne is opposing the plan.
“We don’t like the location of the proposed crosswalk for the safety of everyone – leaving it alone is safer for traffic and pedestrians,” stated Ste. Anne mayor Bernie Vermette. “This location is the safest for everyone concerned – they say its going to cost a lot of money but you can not put a cost on someone’s life.”
However, the Villa Board maintains that the new location would be the safer option considering the location of the entrance and exit of the new facility. Armand Poirier, Board chair for the Villa Youville says that the town is being stubborn on the issue.
“The traffic analyst stated there was advantages to moving the crosswalk in front of the building instead of at an intersection,” Poirier stated. When the board presented the Town with a letter from their analyst supporting this claim, the town countered with a letter of their own.
“We met with the analyst and he has changed his plan. This new letter states that council’s proposal has increased benefits,” countered Vermette.
Poirier accused council of influencing the analyst in the favour of town council, but Vermette denied the accusation.
“This should have been ironed out a year ago, but the board asked us to jump and we did,” Vermette continued. “We agreed to go along with the plan because there was a risk of losing the project.”
As it stands, if the Villa proceeded with moving the crosswalk where the town of Ste. Anne wants it, it will cost the board an additional $90,000. The project is funding with federal and provincial funding and Poirier is worried the entire project could be halted over a simple crosswalk.
“This is money that we don’t have and I don’t think we can get more from the government,” Poirier stated.
If the Villa Youville does not comply to the Towns request, the Town of Ste. Anne council could issue a stop work order which would put the entire project in jeopardy, but Vermette maintains that at this point, he doesn’t know how council could change their minds on the matter.
This crosswalk across Main Street in Ste. Anne is causing some problems between the Town of Ste. Anne council and the Villa Youville board of directors.