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Golden Lake business at cross roads over dangerous intersection

In Golden Lake, the intersection at Highway 60 and Kokomis Road is the closest the township of North Algona Wilberforce has to a main strip.

But the location is facing a serious alteration following a proposal by the Ministry of Transportation of Ontario to address safety concerns.

“Because of the angle of the intersection, it doesn’t meet the current regulations,” explains North Algona Wilberforce Mayor James Brose.

“And so, they would have to maybe take some properties here, some property over on the other side of the intersection to get the proper alignment closer to 90 degrees.”

The proposal would see the four-way intersection lose the southbound access of Kokomis Road, creating a three-way intersection. Kokomis Road would then become a dead-end street with a cul-de-sac unattached to Highway 60.

It’s a change that could severely affect The Cottage Cup, a coffee and cottage store, which is a favourite stop for locals and tourists passing through the area.

“About 65 per cent of our business is tourism that comes directly off of Highway 60,” says Donaven Welk, owner of The Cottage Cup.

The re-construction of the intersection would also see the creation of a set of stop lights further down Highway 60 closer to Killaloe.

“Giving [customers] roughly a kilometer and a half, or 1.7-kilometer access to our business, on a secondary road, would cost us probably between 50 per cent and 60 per cent of our business,” he said.

“The international traffic that we have in the summertime is quite phenomenal going to Algonquin Park,” adds co-owner Amanda Welk.

“And I believe not having that access right there would in turn have them seeing the business and saying, ‘oh, that’s a cute spot. Oh, I don’t know how to get there’.”

Located across the street from The Cottage Cup at the corner of Highway 60 and Kokomis Road is Golden Lake Variety and gas station.

Owner Daniel Von Der Hoeh says his business is at risk of closing to accommodate construction.

“If they take my business, I’d like to rebuild, but it doesn’t seem like they’re giving me that option on Highway 60 for the commercial entrance,” he tells CTV News.

Von Der Hoeh’s business has been operating at the busy intersection for eight years.

“The line of sight isn’t the greatest. So, we’ve had quite a few accidents in this intersection that probably could have been prevented if there was some sort of traffic control,” Von Der Hoeh added.

The intersection also serves as the primary access point for traffic in and out of Pikwakanagan First Nation, access that would be lost should the proposed changes go ahead.

“Highway 60 is the main corridor between Eganville, Barry’s Bay, Algonquin Park and beyond,” said Algonquin’s of Pikwakanagan Chief Greg Sarazin.

“When we leave Pikwakanagan and go shopping into the regional centers, in some cases to employment facilities, we need to pass through that intersection,” Sarazin said.

Sarazin says the First Nation has been in contact with the MTO over the proposed changes, but plans are in their early stages and concerns have yet to be addressed.

“We have environmental concerns, safety concerns and economic concerns that all need to be studied and assessed,” he said.

Brose says there were more than a dozen proposals on the table to alter the intersection at one point, but a recent public meeting resulted in this current plan being place front and centre.

Feedback to the province is due by May 1. Brose is hoping more consultation will take place.

“MTO is bringing this forward like it’s been part of the open and transparent consultation process, when in fact, that’s not the case,” he added.

.“We agree that there has to be changes to the intersection. What we’re not in agreement with is the process. The communication has not been very good.”

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