With more than 30,000 students enrolled at Conestoga College, traffic congestion at the college is inevitable. However, recent data reveal a need for more traffic control on Doon Valley Drive and Conestoga College Boulevard.
According to collision statistics for the past four years obtained through a Freedom of Information request, there have been 92 collisions at 299 Doon Valley Drive near entrance one of the college since 2015 with an average of 23 accidents annually.
In 2015 there were 31 collisions at the exit of the college, in 2016 there were 13 collisions, in 2017 there were 25, and in 2018 there were 23 reported collisions.
Jaiden Stigter, an advanced pre-health student at Conestoga, was involved in one of the 23 accidents that occurred last year outside of the college.
“I was driving to get to my 8 a.m. class, traffic was pretty heavy, there were cars all in front and behind me. [I was] only going about 50 km/h. This lady is at the stop sign decided to come out, and hit me, where I obviously had the right of way,” said Stigter. “My car was totalled and I was in the hospital that day. Police had to come to the scene and we wrote reports, and, of course, my car got towed.”
Stigter feels as though her accident and many other collisions that occur near the college could have been avoided if there was more traffic control on the road.
“Honestly, I think it’s the lack of four-way intersections, especially near the blue parking lot, where [motorists] can wait there for countless minutes waiting for a breakthrough,” said Stigter. “It causes people to go knowing they might not have enough time, which is automatically asking for an accident, which is exactly what happened to me.”
Since 2015 there have also been reports of 17 accidents at Conestoga College Boulevard and Doon Valley Drive, one accident at Orchard Mill and Doon Valley and one accident at Old Mill and Doon Valley. There have been 153 collisions near the campus since 2015.
Susete Araujo-Vizinho, Conestoga’s safety and security services supervisor, said that the college is well aware of the congestion issue at the exit of the college, but unfortunately, there is nothing they can do without city approval.
“Doon Valley Drive and Conestoga College Boulevard are under the jurisdiction of the City of Kitchener and are identified as major neighbourhood collector roadways, which are designed to hold anywhere from 5,000–10,000 vehicles per day,” said City of Kitchener traffic technologist Steven Ryder. “Any changes or modifications to existing traffic control [such as] traffic signals, all-way stops would require studies being undertaken and warrants being satisfied based on the Ontario Traffic Manual.”
For students stuck waiting in congested traffic, Ryder suggests making the switch to public transit for their commute.
“The City of Kitchener is very involved in promoting the use of active transportation and transit to get around instead of using a car for a single driver. Increased use of active transportation, transit, carpooling, etc can help alleviate traffic in and around the college area.”
In the meantime, the college has been sporadically asking Waterloo Regional Police Service to direct traffic at the exit of the college.
“We definitely realize that, as the college is growing, there is more traffic. We had Waterloo Regional [Police] here for two weeks; that definitely helped. I think, moving forward, we will continue with Waterloo Regional Police during the start [of the school year] at least,” said Araujo-Vizinho. “Whether it would be a roundabout or a set of lights, that would all be on the city.”
Araujo-Vizinho also mentioned that Conestoga College officials sit on the City of Kitchener’s town and gown committee, where for several years they have urged city planners to create a solution to help alleviate the congestion, but nothing has been done to help relieve the intense congestion.
Araujo-Vizinho suggests that until better traffic control solutions are implemented, students should drive carefully and patiently.