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Widening Stone Road – A clash of ideals

Hugh Whiteley will be bringing an interesting clash of visions before council next Monday when he argues against a proposal by city staff to widen a section of Stone Road that abuts the U of G’s Arboretum. This clash matches the common view of roads as efficient corridors for cars against Whiteley’s view that aesthetics should play a big role in cases like this one.
The common view has been both challenged and broadened in recent years, as city hall has embraced a “road diet” concept. This has seen stretches of busy roads such as Imperial, Edinburgh and Woolwich go from four vehicle lanes down to two, often with centre turn lanes and bike lanes. The increasing importance being placed on cycling and walking – so-called “active transportation” – is a broadening of the old car-focused view.
With Stone Road between Gordon and Victoria, city staff are proposing four vehicle lanes as well as bike lanes and sidewalks on both sides of the road. Their report points out that Stone is the city’s only continuous east-west arterial road between Watson Road and the Hanlon Expressway that’s also a truck route. It also points out that the plan for the future of the Hanlon that was finalized in 2010 designates Stone as having the only full interchange between Wellington and Laird roads. Stone is a key road that needs to be widened now east to Victoria, staff insist.
Whiteley, a longtime council watchdog who knows his way around the minutia of planning matters, isn’t buying staff’s arguments and says the public needs to take a much closer look at the Stone Road issue. Aesthetics should have a role to play when roads go through or near natural areas of Guelph, such as the Arboretum, he says. Not only that, but his proposal for improving Stone west of Victoria is also cheaper, he stresses.
It will be interesting indeed to see how this clash of visions plays out at Monday’s council meeting.

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