Who is to blame for the stalemate the Township of North Dundas currently finds itself taking part in?
What is to become of York Street is the most pressing of questions coming out of the municipality’s St. Lawrence Street headquarters.
At the moment, there’s two scenarios: flip it to one-way use only, leading traffic west into Winchester District Memorial Hospital (WDMH)’s emergency dropoff location, or allow the Upper Canada District School Board (UCDSB) to annex the entirety of the area.
Neither seems overly productive, yet it is two proposals that have been a long time coming.
North Dundas council members pushed for the creation of a project team that would help shore up pedestrian, cyclist and vehicle concerns in the area surrounding both Winchester Public School, the neighbouring hospital and Dundas Manor.
Years of growth, no doubt a boon for both the village and township as a whole, has had some unfortunate spin-off consequences.
The schoolyard has been ever-shrinking as narrow-minded bureaucrats at the UCDSB would sooner continue to further the school’s sprawl on a footprint less than coducive to its needs.
Just keep building must be the motto as the historic school structure has gone through its fair share of alterations in recent years, and there is at least one more coming with the planned addition of a daycare.
The village hospital, arguably one of the most successful in Eastern Ontario, has also been pushing forward with additions, having never truly slowed down since the medical facility’s significant overhaul several years ago.
Land acquisition has been the name of the game, as the Community Care Building went through two phases of growth and Dundas Manor, which receives advisory oversite from senior staff at WDMH, is expected to be replaced with a new building in the next decade.
It’s good growth, no doubt, but it is additions that are fixing a bright light on the limitations of developing in a historic part of Winchester first constructed for horse and buggy travel.
More than that, it has increased the vehicle traffic and parking rates in the area dramatically.
School staff take up a good portion of the spots surrounding WPS, while visitors to the manor and hospital park along the nearby streets, as do hospital employees (despite what may be claimed). At the same time, WDMH upped its price to park in their lots, which keeps a lot of people from doing so.
All of this while the school and school board think it’s okay to shuffle students across York Street to play in the neighbouring field — and even that place to play is shrinking.
Both the hospital and school board, at different times, were offered alternative land in Winchester to build. Each side balked at the idea.
Instead, the township, which let the growth happen this way, sits stuck.
Hardly practical planning.