A Township councillor is renewing the call for widening along the 208 Street corridor.
On Feb. 5, Coun. Petrina Arnason submitted a notice of motion for tonight’s meeting (Feb. 19) to have council update a 2015 staff report on the costs of widening 208 Street through Willoughby and to provide alternative options for funding.
Congestion along the two-lane corridor has long been an issue, with additional lanes slowly being added as new developments come through. This process has created bottlenecks and time delays, which increase safety concerns and the potential for more accidents, Arnason said.
“Currently the build-out of the Willoughby area, which will be our largest and most dense urban population, is only at approximately between 30 to 40 per cent,” Arnason told the Times.
“Our current strategy is to rely solely on development cost charges (DCCs) for cost recovery to provide roadway infrastructure and to procure the land necessary for these improvements at no cost.
“This means that external market and other forces, beyond the Township’s immediate control, will govern the rate at which this critical corridor is expanded over the next 20 to 30 years.”
The 2015 report estimated the cost would be $60 million to widen the road to four lanes.
Arnason believes it is time to take another look at 208 Street, as transit service has been relocated to this road from 200 Street, the 208 Street overpass is now being completed and other projects — including the 216 Street Interchange, 212 connector and Labonte/80th Avenue connector — are in the works.
“The completion of these noted initiatives will drive even more vehicles onto 208th and create levels of volume substantially beyond what is currently being experienced,” she said.
To complete this costly project, Arnason says council has some options.
“I believe that there are possible opportunities to consider medium-term borrowing to complete the works, with subsequent DCC’s from Willoughby-related developments being utilized to help to pay back the funds, similar to the rationale of Local Area Plan strategies,” she said.
“The Township could also consider initiating a prepaid discounted DCC proposal in order to encourage ‘up front’ funding for developments adjacent to 208 in order to facilitate enhanced uptake prior to actual buildout.”