Residents on 14th Ave are asking Council to examine new options after the village closed Cypress St. to vehicle traffic.

14th Avenue no longer has access to 17th Avenue
14th Avenue no longer has access to 17th Avenue

Residents complained to council in the spring about dust storms caused by traffic on Cypress St, a right-of-way built to install sewer lines more than a decade ago. While not a legal road, residents have been using it to access 14th Ave from 17th Ave, instead of driving to Ash St and around.

Residents asked the village to enact better dust control on the road. Complaints about dust at that location date back to at least 2008.

Grace Fortowsky lives in the only house with an address on Cypress St. Her mother who lives with her is allergic to dust particulate.

Fortowsky and her neighbour, the two closest residents, say no one asked for the road to be closed, only to calm the dust. That said, traffic calming would not have helped.

“Ultimately the problem is the dust,” Fortowsky says. “If you don’t have dust control it doesn’t matter.”

While not a legal road, the village has continued to remove snow and grade it, as well as apply a coating of dust control in the spring. The maintenance cost of Cypress St. is estimated at $1200 a year, to grade it twice, plow it five times, and apply dust control once.

That cost did not include applying gravel or further dust control, which would be recommended if it remained open, says acting CAO Anne Yanciw.

Council decided to block traffic on Cypress until the subdivision is built – it is currently several acres of pine trees. Yanciw says it is the developer’s responsibility to build the roads, and only the village’s responsibility to maintain them if they are built as legal roads, according to village policy. One of the reasons Cypress St. is so dusty is it is not built to a legal standard, she says. By leaving it open, there could also be liability issues pertaining to an accident on an improperly built road.

The village asked for feedback about the road closure and received no response from the fire department. The ambulance team reported it would add two minutes if they were responding in that subdivision; police said they do not use that road.

The cost of blocking Cypress at one end cost roughly $1300 for the machinery and concrete blocks.

In a letter to Council, neighbour Sofia Anasari said the closed road is not just an inconvenience, but also pushes more traffic towards both schools. To get to the ambulance station by taking Ash St. north means a responder has to pass through two school zones, when school is in session. The other way is to take 17th Ave. which is not well maintained.

Fortowsky, who is both an ambulance attendant and a volunteer fire department member, says the road closure adds 2-3 minutes to her response time.

She says it would be much better for emergency response to open 14th at the west end where the cul-de-sac is located. The road used to go through at that point, but was closed several years ago. The opening would connect 14th with Dogwood, which would drastically improve her response time. It’s also a much shorter distance; even if it wasn’t paved, the dust would not be as bad.

Acting CAO Anne Yanciw says the end of 14th St. is all private land, which is the reason the throughway was closed in the first place. The “former road” crossed an empty lot which is now occupied, she says.