Moncton’s north end residents say connecting road could impact safety

Concerned residents held a meeting Wednesday night to discuss concerns regarding the possibility of connecting Casino Drive to Muirfield/Twin Oaks Drive. Callum Smith / Global News

Some residents in Moncton’s fast-growing north end are speaking out against a potential road connecting their neighbourhood to a busy section of traffic.

City staff have hired an independent traffic consultant to review five areas or ideas in that area of the city, including the possibility of connecting Casino Drive to Muirfield/Twin Oaks Drive, according to Isabelle LeBlanc, Moncton’s director of communications.

“I’m very hopeful that it won’t happen,” says Glenn Feltmate, the spokesperson for Magnetic Hill Estates Concerned Citizens Group, which organized the meeting.

Glenn Feltmate, who has lived in the area for 16 years, says he hopes the road, which would link Casino Drive to Muirfield/Twin Oaks Drive, is not opened up. Callum Smith / Global News

Currently, a wooden wall stands between the neighbourhood and Casino Drive, which runs off Mountain Road and the Trans-Canada Highway.

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Ward 3 councillors Brian Hicks and Bryan Butler attended the discussion, answering questions from the crowd of approximately 45 people.

Safety concerns are top of mind, residents say, and more traffic could have a negative impact on the community.

“We’re thinking about trucks rolling down the road, drunk drivers, highway traffic,” says Barbara Stead, who has lived in the area for 17 years.

She met with city staff and the consultant prior to the meeting to discuss their concerns.

A wooden wall stands at the end of Muirfield/Twin Oaks Drive, separating the neighbourhood from Casino Drive. Callum Smith / Global News

“I think it… will have a negative impact on our neighbourhood, we have the park up the street, we have a group home up the street as well, and we have small children in our neighbourhood,” says Phil Lefrancois, who lives nearby. “The increase in traffic will definitely impact their safety.”

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Brian Hicks, who returned to city council in December, said he was surprised to hear the issue was being looked at.

“These are public minutes from August 18, 2008, where there was a motion made by council and it passed unanimously that the Muirfield to Casino Drive be taken off the municipal plan,” he told reporters. “And it was, so the question was, that’s why were all thinking, why is this back on the table again?”

He said he was also surprised to see that staff had hired the independent consultant in the first place.

“Council was not consulted, staff found $100,000 in the budget when money’s pretty tight in the city, so that surprised me,” he said. “If the consultant was standing next to me, I wouldn’t know who it was because I’ve never met them.”

Brian Hicks, a city councillor for Ward 3, says he was surprised to hear the Casino Drive and Muirfield/Twin Oaks Drive discussion again. Callum Smith / Global News

A petition is being circulated in opposition to the idea of connected Casino Drive with Muirfield/Twin Oaks Drive.

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The other areas being reviewed as part of the transportation analysis include two intersections of Mountain Road (Ensley Drive as well as Charles Lutz Road), the lane reduction/bike lanes on Mountain Road, and St. George Street intersections from Vaughan Harvey Boulevard to King Street.

“At this time, we anticipate that the transportation consultant’s report (findings and recommendations) will be presented to elected officials in the fall,” said LeBlanc in an emailed statement. “Once the report and Administration’s recommendations have been presented to Council in a public forum, they will be debated and decided upon by the elected officials.”

But residents are hoping the debate will be short-lived.

“It’s going to take a lot of effort by some people within the council to have it reopened,” says Feltmate.

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