A motion to install a three-way stop at the intersection at Hespeler St. and Loewen Blvd. was defeated in a 4-3 vote by Steinbach City Council. 

The motion to install a three-way stop was put forward by Councillor Jac Siemens after council received a traffic report regarding the intersection. 

In addition to the annual fall traffic count and analysis that the City normally undertakes, a specific additional component was undertaken at this intersection.  

Administration informs that the results show a three-way stop would improve the overall level of service for the intersection during the PM peak hour scenario, at the cost of longer delays for the Loewen Blvd. westbound and eastbound traffic if changes were made.  

City Manager Troy Warkentin informs the study shows this would negatively impact traffic. 

“At all other times of the day, since that traffic along Loewen Blvd. would no longer be free-flowing, ultimately the level of service for that through traffic as it exists today would be negatively affected.” 

The study recommends the city collect more data to fully understand the cause of the delays before making a change to this intersection, since an all-ways stop controlled intersection could result in some unintended consequences for traffic on Loewen Blvd. 

Warkentin notes this intersection will likely need to become a three-way stop when the city initiates the PTH 12 and Loewen Blvd. Project, which is a mile further to the West, because of the degree of traffic disruption that is expected from that detour. 

“While no permanent change to that intersection is being recommended at this time, especially pursuant to further consideration of a traffic roundabout that may be designed in the future, there is an opportunity to consider an all-way stop in the event that the City does proceed with the PTH 12 and Loewen Blvd. intersection improvements.” 

Councillor Jac Siemens then made a motion to put up a three-way stop. 

“I made this request for a three-way stop at this intersection, I think I did it twice in my term on council. The engineer's report says that more data is needed to be collected, and I'm not a traffic engineer by any stretch, but I also use that intersection and I get a lot of different comments on it from people that use that intersection.” 

The reports also mentioned hesitant drivers turning left off of Hespeler onto Loewen causing longer waits, which Siemens says is something council cannot control. 

“In my opinion, it is a top reason we need to move forward with the three-corner stop.” 

Another reason he would like the three-way stop is pedestrian traffic, as this intersection is part of active transportation routes, with bike lanes identified on both roads. 

“A cyclist going North on Hespeler, like I was doing last Friday at 2:45pm, I wanted to make a left-hand turn onto Loewen. The cyclist needs to be aware of traffic going from east to West, also right-hand turning traffic that's going from Hespeler onto Loewen Blvd.” 

He says it's a major pedestrian and bicycle crossing with hesitant drivers and motorists not indicating what action they are taking by not using their turn signals in a timely manner.  

“It is my opinion that we should move forward with making this a three-way stop. While it will slow down traffic going east and West on Loewen it will make it safer for pedestrians and cyclists and move traffic more effectively during peak times.” 

Jake Hiebert also voted in favour of putting up a three-way stop.  

He disagrees with the report saying they need further studies and further analysis. 

“I think there's been enough complaints and enough observations made of this intersection that it would definitely benefit,” he says. “I think it's a necessity to put the stop signs at the three-way stop. I think that's necessary and I too have advocated for it in the past and I continue to advocate for it.” 

Councillor Michael Zwaagstra spoke against the motion, saying council should follow the recommendations from the traffic study. 

“I'm not sure we why we bothered to get this traffic analysis because it sounds like members of council have got their own analysis ready to go,” he says. “The reason that we hire experts to do this kind of analysis is so that we don't end up with the law of unintended consequences.” 

He says there are definitely challenges with the intersection, but the City should wait to put up the three-way stop until construction begins on Loewen Blvd. and PTH 12. 

“Because that is when the experts that we've hired, our staff and our consultants who have actually analyzed this intersection, have said is the best time to do it.” 

Councillor Bill Hiebert voted in support of the motion, as he says the wait times on Hespeler can be shocking. 

“I timed out five minutes last summer with a hesitant driver sitting at the stop sign and didn't make a left turn. It's very frustrating. There were probably 15 cars behind me, so it is a fairly serious issue.” 

Councillor Damian Penner did not support the motion, as it is going against the recommendation from the experts they commissioned. 

“I'm not going to deny that there are challenges with that intersection, but we are not the traffic experts, and we don't know what challenges are going to be increased, or new challenges going to be coming up by doing an all-way stop there,” he says. “I have a saying, and that is ‘let the plumbers plumb,’ and I'm going to let the traffic experts tell us what to do on this one.” 

Councillor Susan Penner also voted against the motion. 

“There's a saying that says ‘hard cases make bad laws,’ and I think to a certain degree that applies here,” she says. “We're hearing from one-off personal situations, one time Counselor Hiebert had to sit for five minutes. The point of the study is that we get a broad picture of what's going on. We can't base it on our one-off personal experiences, because then we're going to make very poor decisions, not just with this, but with other things.” 

She adds that the reality is there is rush hour time in every city. 

“I don't think we should make these changes based on a peak time where it takes five minutes to get through there, when the other 23 hours of the day it’s not really that significant of an issue.” 

Penner adds she would have serious concerns about how this would affect East and West traffic on Loewen Blvd. 

Councillor Jac Siemens adds that while they don’t know what the unintended consequences would be, there's a current problem at that intersection that needs fixing. 

“For pedestrians to cross, for cyclists to be part of that corner. I do know there's lots of hesitant drivers,” he says. “Yes, I'm not a traffic engineer, but I know how people behave at that corner and I know that corner doesn't function properly many times during the day.” 

He says that the best solution would be to install a roundabout. 

“We had that opportunity two years ago when we had the corner ripped apart. I think the second best option is to put a three-corner stop, and the third option is to do nothing, and to do nothing I think would fail that corner.” 

Finally, Mayor Earl Funk voted against the motion to install a three-way stop. 

“I too have apprehensions in changing the corner for 24 hours when it's just a 30-45 minute problem. I think that if we go change this before we have more information or before we're ready for it to be the detour, I think we circumvent what we've done here.” 

Funk says the best plan is to get the roundabout in their long-term capital plan.  

“And then that intersection will be fixed forever, and traffic will always flow because roundabouts are really the best thing for traffic flow,” he says. “I think we should probably be planning for more roundabouts in our community as we develop. We do have a roundabout, it's working very, very well, and I would like to see that more often.”