THUNDER BAY – Thunder Bay's city council focused on infrastructure improvements and environmental initiatives at its meeting Monday evening.
The community will see its first roundabout on a city street, received a first report on a bold net-zero emissions plan, and heard a progress update on plans to expand recycling and composting initiatives.
Monday's meeting also marked the return of Coun. Trevor Giertuga to the virtual council table following a leave of absence.
Edward Street roundabout gets go-ahead
Thunder Bay will see its first roundabout on a city street within a matter of months, after council awarded a $2.7 million contract to reconstruct a portion of Edward Street.
The roundabout at Edward and Redwood Avenue will be a safer option than a set of traffic lights, with similar long-term costs, the city’s engineering department found.
However, the replacement has raised objections from the city’s Accessibility Advisory Committee, which has expressed concerns over pedestrian safety for people with disabilities.
Council received a first report on a blueprint to make Thunder Bay carbon neutral, with councillors praising the initiative but questioning how the hugely ambitious strategy will be put into action.
The 88-page document sketches a path to “net-zero” greenhouse gas emissions for the community by 2050, saying its goals will be highly dependent on support from provincial and federal governments, as well as industry.
A final report on the strategy will be presented in June.
Public on board with traffic light removal
The city is ready to push ahead with removal of two sets of traffic lights, after receiving few concerns from the public.
Traffic signals at the intersections of Donald and Vickers streets and Frederica and Brown streets are both set for decommissioning this summer, to be replaced with four-way stops.
Expansions to recycling, composting planned
An expansion of recycling and a move to automated waste collection are two upcoming changes highlighted in a progress report on the city’s Solid Waste Management Strategy.
Provincial policies are also expected to require the city to operate an organics collection program by 2025.
City administration told councillors the city was already making progress, reducing the total amount of waste generated between 2016 and 2019, and increasing the amount diverted to landfill from 24 to 27 per cent.
That progress was halted in 2020, but solid waste and recycling services manager Jason Sherband called that a temporary bump experienced in many communities due to COVID-19.
City to push for changes on landfill approval
The City of Thunder Bay will advocate for changes to provincial law requiring approval from adjacent municipalities when siting a landfill nearby.
The rule, introduced in Bill 197 under the COVID-19 Economic Recovery Act, “removes local decision-making powers from municipalities and puts it the hands of their neighbours, who often have different waste disposal challenges and responsibilities,” according to a memo from the city’s intergovernmental affairs committee.
A copy of the resolution will be sent to Premier Doug Ford, Minister of Municipal Affairs Steve Clark, and local MPPs.
Sidewalk work approved
Council approved over $845,000 in sidewalk work and installation of two new pedestrian crossovers Monday, awarding the tender to lowest bidder RJ Concrete & Construction Ltd., which beat the city’s pre-tender estimate by over $20,000.
The contract includes sidewalk replacement on sections of Munro Street, County Boulevard, Ridgeway Street, Francis Street, Ogden Street, Isabella Street, Cumming Street, Arthur Street, Wiley Street and Rowand Street.
It will also see infrastructure for two pedestrian crossovers installed, at the intersections of Edward and Isabella streets, and Neebing Avenue and Frederica Street.
New sidewalk segments will also be built on Neebing Avenue and Frederica Street connecting to public transit, and concrete retaining walls along River Street and High Street will be replaced.