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Fewer violations now with change to Veterans Drive

Some of the snow that accumulated after Wednesday night's heavy snowfall.
A barricade on Veterans Drive prevents traffic from travelling through it northbound. The street itself remains two-way, behind the barricade.

Pictou District RCMP say the number of people illegally using Veterans Drive has decreased since the traffic change came into effect.

Cpl. Greg Deagle said during a police advisory board meeting in Pictou Wednesday that when the barricade first went up in late-December, officers stopping traffic from driving southbound onto a section of Veterans Drive was a lot higher than it is now.

“Some claim not to understand and some don’t agree with the $180 fine,” he said. “It (number of occurrences) is going down quite a bit.”

However, after two subsequent checks, the number of offenders has gotten fewer. Not only that, he said, residents along the road are giving police positive comments in regard to the enforcement in the area.

“For every person that complained when we had them stopped, there would be another person come out of their house and give us a thumbs up or thank us for coming out,” he said.

In a vote of 3-2, Pictou council decided in August to turn a portion of the street one-way in hopes of addressing concerns about speed and high traffic volumes.

Council had done two traffic studies on the street that connects Haliburton Road with Weaver Road. The most recent study shows the average number of vehicles on the road is 1,800 per day and that speed isn’t an issue.

Town staff recommended that, based on recent study results, the road remain the same as it is, but the town should increase traffic awareness through signs and educating the public.

Staff estimated it would cost about $200,000 to put sidewalks along the street and the town’s total sidewalk budget for this year is $390,000, so it was ruled out as an option.

After the barricades were placed on Veterans Drive in December, social media lit up and police cruisers were in place to advise people of the change.

Some local residents have started a petition that has now collected 162 names in favour of having the street return to status quo.

Victor Smith, a member of Pictou’s police advisory board, said he is concerned about the safety of pedestrians and people using wheelchairs or scooters who might pass through the opening at the same time as a vehicle.

“They built a safety concern there,” he said. “It is a little too far across the road. They (pedestrians) can’t go to the middle so they have to go along and poke their nose out. They are going to get hit.”

Smith, who said he drives a small car, parked his own vehicle in the middle of the road by the barrier and was surprised at the little amount of room on either side of the car.

He said the size of the opening is not a police matter but it could become one if someone is injured while passing through it.

“A year is too long to sit and wait for someone to get hurt,” he said, in reference to town council’s decision not to relook at Veterans Drive for a year.

Board members said they believe people are also confused about Veterans Drive still being a two-way street from behind the barricade. Only a small section of the street, near the commercial business centre, is one way, prohibiting motorists from passing through it northbound.

On another note, the board also asked about speeding concerns along Haliburton Road, which intersects with Veterans Drive. A local resident said he believes traffic is travelling at a higher speed now that the road has been paved.

Deagle said officers have also been monitoring this road as well and speeds are coming in within the recommended limit. However, he believes because the road was in such poor condition in the past that traffic would travel much slower on it, and now that it is paved, vehicles are doing the speed limit giving residents the perception they are going faster.

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