Last night, Council dealt with an issue that has been before it previously – installation of a sidewalk on Kitimat Cres. This is an issue that has been under discussion – back and forth to Council – for over 2 years. Originally, there was a push by some residents that the road reconstruction along with a sidewalk be advanced from its regular time frame of 10 years from now (well, 8 years given that this issue first arose 2 years ago). Council of last term, approved the advancement of the project. Fast forward 2 years and Council had before it a petition signed by 46 of the 50 homes on Kitimat indicating that they now do not want a sidewalk. Council stopped the project from going forward.
However, after approving the cancellation, Council received another petition, this time from the concerned parents and residents in the area indicating that not only is a sidewalk needed but changes to parking and possibly a “lay-by” in front of the public school on Tecumseh as well. Given the conflicting petitions and viewpoints, Council put forward a motion to create a working group that will include membership of the School board and Trustee, Town staff and the residents who will work together on a solution in regards to parking, and the “lay-by” to create a safer environment for the parents, kids and the residents on Kitimat.
The issue of the sidewalk was a separate matter. There are many questions as to how and why the sidewalk is back in front of Council given the previous two decisions. First, the issue was brought back before Council due to a notice of motion put forward by Councillor Kim. The process then is that all Notice of Motions must be sent in to the clerk’s office no later than Wednesday on the week that a General Committee agenda is due to be published. From there the motion stays on the public agenda for over 2 weeks and will not be discussed till the next Council meeting. This gives the public an opportunity to come out and respond to any motion that the Mayor or Councillor puts forward.
Following a review of the staff report and a discussion by members around the table, Council unanimously approved the installation of sidewalks on Kitimat crescent.
Some residents have asked why Council would revert back to its original decision and approve the sidewalk installation? In one word… Safety!! Moving towards sidewalks on one side of all Town streets is part of Town policy to create a connectivity network for pedestrians throughout the community. Council can override the policy, and remove sidewalks, if there is a strong rationale for doing so. Issues of safety, however, are always the paramount consideration.
In this case, on Kitimat, safety was an issue that was raised. For example, Council heard (from a resident that lives on the street that is not in favour of sidewalks) that this street is highly used and that foot traffic is in abundance due to the public school on Tecumseh. The resident also noted that due to the high volume of foot traffic, that the Town should increase snow winter maintenance levels for this street to allow for people to walk on the road safely. If there is that amount of foot traffic volume as to warrant safety concerns then clearly a sidewalk is much needed. Council – and myself included – could not in all good conscience have residents continue to use the road to walk on when safety concerns have been raised.
While Council has approved the sidewalk, the formation of the working group will still proceed; and will begin working to find solutions for parking and a possible “lay-by” in front of the school. It is hoped that this committee will be formed and begin working in the early New Year. I am confident that everyone working together will help identify solutions to address the problems that the residents, parents, and school are having in this area.
As an endnote, I’d like to reiterate what was said at the table. Everyone needs to do their part to be responsible when driving, we hear too many times of distracted driving, people blowing through stop signs etc…. Please take care and follow the rules of the road especially in school zones and our residential street. You are not saving any time! You are just increasing the risk that something bad could happen. Please take care everyone!