Sidewalk? Shmidewalk. Who Walks?

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This topic contains 4 replies, has 2 voices, and was last updated by sisco farraro 5 months ago.

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  • #746616 Reply

    Bob LeDrew

    I love the brilliance of some of our elected council. There’s a mountain of policy at the city talking about multi-modal transportation, and encouraging and mandating complete streets, which include sidewalks.

    So the city posts as one of its priorities completing sidewalks on Sunview Drive in Orleans. Completing, mind you – not initating, but completing the connection. On a street that ends at a park and a school.

    However, a handful of residents get stroppy because “they don’t see anyone walking” (perhaps because there is no sidewalk but who knows?), and good old Councillor Jody Mitic suggests that we forget about that project, doesn’t show up to the meeting on which the item is being discussed, and … it passes.

    What utter stupidity.

    #746621 Reply

    Ron Benn

    Getting community support is often a case of herding cats. Those who want the sidewalks often present cogent explanations, generally directed at the concept of safety, and notably so for school age children who walk or ride their bikes to school. Those who are against the sidewalks are generally the people whose properties will be directly affected.

    One way to address this falls under the general meaning of planning (i.e. thinking ahead and acting on a timely basis). Planning is not something that would be considered best practices in Ottawa – reacting on the other hand … well let’s just say that they practise that art form on a daily basis.

    The city should build the sidewalks when the neighbourhood is under construction. The cost can be part of the overall site plan and funded, in whole or in part, by the developer. Naturally, the developer is not enamoured with this, as it increases their costs and reduces profits. The alignment of the interests of our elected officials and the development industry have been discussed on The Bulldog over the course of its history, and would be an interesting subject for a correlation study.

    Putting the sidewalks in after the fact is an expensive, disruptive process. It takes forever to get the formal studies funded, then completed, then presented to the community, at which the voices of despair are often louder than the voices of support. If, and that is a big if, the project gets community support, then it goes into the giant hopper of construction projects, competing for funding with all of the other community upgrade projects from across the city. It can take years from the time the project gets dropped into the funnel to the time that the equipment chews up the asphalt (the repair of which is a whole different story).

    Note that sidewalk maintenance (snow removal, crack repairs etc.) falls under the city operating budget. We have seen how hard the city tries to hide the amount by which they have reduced the snow removal budget, even though they add to the roadways and sidewalks every year.

    Combine the extra costs (financial and political) associated with installing sidewalks and having to maintain them, and we get what we have – no tangible action being the preferred outcome.

    As for Councillor Jody Mitic and his reported lack of effectiveness – October is only seven months away.

    Ron Benn
    Centrepointe Community Association

    #746629 Reply

    Ken Gray

    Ron and Bob:

    I’m not particularly familiar with the issues involved in this situation but you folks might find this interesting.

    If you are trying to calm traffic or make pedestrians safe by building sidewalks, there’s another cure depending on how wide your street is.

    Years ago I lived on a residential street in Highland Park that had neither curbs nor sidewalks. And yet the traffic moved along that street very slowly and safely.

    The reason was that the street was about 2 3/4 lanes wide. The city allowed parking on either side of the street. Cars would often take other streets because the thoroughfare was just too narrow and difficult to navigate. Sometimes cars would park on either side of the street so traffic couldn’t get by. In winter, piled up snow could get the street down to one lane. That’s really good traffic calming.

    So before I moved into this old area of the city, the municipality decided that no curbs and sidewalks were not very modern. The people fought against curbs and sidewalks because they knew that parking slowed traffic and curbs and sidewalks were likely to widen the street, causing more and faster traffic. Traffic was so slow on the street that the littel avenue became a favourite for road hockey, another traffic calmer.

    Furthermore, much rainwater drained into the ground from ditches, thus creating less runoff than with sewers and curbs. As well, it was a beautiful old street though your sump pumps ran a little hard sometimes.

    The residents won and God bless ’em the street remains old and picturesque.

    Sometimes progress isn’t progress and the neighbourhood was smart enough to notice that. The city was not.

    It’s a better street despite the city instead of because of it.

    If you want to know what works best in a community, ask the residents.

    Often, the tall foreheads at city hall don’t have the faintest idea.

    Listen to the neighbourhood.

    #746632 Reply

    The Voter

    I’ve never heard of Sunview Drive so checked it out on Google.

    It’s a bus route with hundreds of homes either directly on Sunview or on streets that feed off it. It also has a school and park on it, the school being one that brings kids in from other neighbourhoods as well as serving the immediate area. They have almost 400 kids there including English, French Immersion and Gifted Grade 5-8 Programs. A sidewalk would be used by school kids, parents with strollers, seniors and those walking to and from bus stops.

    It’s a poor use of resources when sidewalks aren’t installed when the streets are put in and the equipment is there before families have moved in and it becomes an inconvenience for them.

    #746688 Reply

    sisco farraro

    To Ron’s point, developing a community is a project. Each project has basic requirements.

    In the case of property development I presume these are – purchase and sale of development land, building roads through the community, integrating these streets with city streets and possibly erection of stop lights, hooking into city water and sewer systems, and, erection of sidewalks (when all the other work is taking place). This is the standard checklist all property development projects work from plus any others I’ve missed.

    Yes, maintaining sidewalks is a consideration, a necessary evil in fact. But, we want people walking outside breathing fresh air, alone, in groups, with their dogs, jogging, etc. How developers maintain or increase profitability is a matter for the developers to deal with but cutting corners or delaying work that needs to be completed later is not option.


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