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Saturday 20 Jul 2024

Ice Cream Zones
David Simmonds

The interim report we’ve all been holding our breath for is finally on its way to Council. The “Times” leaked an advance copy. The principal author has been interviewed.

A study of traffic patterns, in town, was commissioned.

For those readers who don’t follow local news regularly, Council last fall put out to tender a contract to study traffic patterns, in Wellington. The winning bidder, at $557,000, Sensible Safety Solutions LLP, was to produce an interim report by the beginning of June.

The report is entitled “Slowdown on Butterfat Mile: a Multi-Factorial Solution for Traffic Calming in Wellington,” That’s a “pretty grabby title for a stuffy report, eh,” said SSS president Bill Galiphant, with a grin. The report concludes that traffic in Wellington is at an all-time high and pedestrians are potentially at risk. 

The greatest risk occurs around our local ice cream parlours, of which we now boast four along our “Butterfat Miles”; Wellington is developing a deserved reputation, as far away as Hillier and Bowerman’s Corners. On the roads, there is tension, as some cars already drive at a crawl, as they scope out the best parlour to visit, while h an urge to motor through Wellington, as fast as possible, grips other drivers. Correspondingly, on the sidewalks, at the ice cream parlours, our youngest and most vulnerable citizens congregate in ever-increasing numbers.

It’s perhaps no wonder that the solution, which the report proposes, builds around those very ice cream parlours. It proposes the creation of special “ice cream zones,” within a 100-metre radius of each parlour, within which special rules would apply to both automobiles and pedestrians.

Ice cream rage may be a result.

For automobiles, the report recommends a maximum speed of 12.6 kilometres, an hour, in an ice cream zone. Signs would warn motorists how “fines are doubled when ice cream eaters present.” Galiphant acknowledged that by its very design, the measure would bring all traffic passing through Wellington to a crawl. He denied this would result in “ice cream rage,” among impatient motorists. “If they do rage, they’ll have the OPP to contend with,” said Galiphant. “Remember, they aren’t far away: we have a Tim Hortons now.”

Even though the new rules are for their benefit, pedestrians do not get off lightly either. Chief among the recommendations forbids pedestrians, regardless of their age, in an ice cream zone from walking or running at the same time as ingesting ice cream. This is widely defined to include sorbets and gelatos, but does not include smoothies, slushies and milkshakes or other beverages for which the principal means of ingestion is a straw. 

Fines for engaging in prohibited movement would depend on the size of the ice cream treat; $50 for a baby cone, $75 for one scoop, $100 for two scoops and so on. “We don’t think this will have a negative effect on the ice cream trade,” said Galiphant. “Studies show most ice cream is bought by grandparents, who appreciate safety first. It’s not as if they’re going to take their grandkids “go carting,” instead. It will also encourage people to develop responsible habits and not to order more ice cream than their stomachs will permit.”

Galiphant denied that the report was a watered down version of a preliminary draft that had recommended making it mandatory to wear bicycle helmets in pedestrian ice cream zones. He also denied that SSS had considered making it a rule that ice cream cones come with a ‘non-drip’ lacquer, to reduce tantrums and other unpredictable behaviours. He did say, however, that if a city, such as Toronto, could ban texting while walking, then surely a community such as Wellington can address the same risk by banning eating ice cream and walking. 

The interim reports goes to Council, shortly.

The interim report will go first to Committee of the Whole and then to full Council, which is likely to recommend broad public consultation. No date is set for the final report, although a source close to Mayor Robert Quaiff reportedly said Council would like to have the new rules in place by late 2018 or 2019. 

The cost of the SSS report has been the subject of some controversy. Sensitive to that issue, Galiphant admitted, that he travelled to the major capitals of Europe. His purpose was to view successful traffic calming methods for the study. He was particularly pleased and grateful to have been able to visit Copenhagen, for the first time. Still, he never expensed an ice cream purchase that wasn’t necessary for the study or eaten an ice cream cone that he didn’t finish.

Some readers seem intent on nullifying the authority of David Simmonds. The critics are so intense; Simmonds is cast as more scoundrel than scamp. He is, in fact, a Canadian writer of much wit and wisdom. Simmonds writes strong prose, not infrequently laced with savage humour. He dissects, in a cheeky way, what some think sacrosanct. His wit refuses to allow the absurdities of life to move along, nicely, without comment. What Simmonds writes frightens some readers. He doesn't court the ineffectual. Those he scares off are the same ones that will not understand his writing. Satire is not for sissies. The wit of David Simmonds skewers societal vanities, the self-important and their follies as well as the madness of tyrants. He never targets the outcasts or the marginalised; when he goes for a jugular, its blood is blue. David Simmonds, by nurture, is a lawyer. By nature, he is a perceptive writer, with a gimlet eye, a superb folk singer, lyricist and composer. He believes quirkiness is universal; this is his focus and the base of his creativity. "If my humour hurts," says Simmonds,"it's after the stiletto comes out." He's an urban satirist on par with Pete Hamill and Mike Barnacle; the late Jimmy Breslin and Mike Rokyo and, increasingly, Dorothy Parker. He writes from and often about the village of Wellington, Ontario. Simmonds also writes for the Wellington "Times," in Wellington, Ontario.

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