Safety first means sidewalks near high school
Kincardine Town Council Oct 2, 2008
by Liz Dadson
13/01/2009 04:25 PM
Kincardine council has rejected its public works committee recommendation and the wishes of the neighbours, forging ahead with sidewalks along three streets north of Kincardine District Secondary School.
During lengthy debate in committee-of-the-whole Wednesday night (Oct. 2), council heard public works manager Jim O'Rourke explain the project to reconstruct the four streets: William, South, Charles and Wall, and to run sidewalks on the west side of William Street, south side of South Street and west side of Charles Street.
The public works committee had sided with the residents of the area who don't want sidewalks. The residents said students walking to and from the high school won't use the sidewalks - they walk in groups, side-by-side. Plus, the proposed changes would destroy the quiet neighbourhood, infringing on many properties, they said.
Councillor Ron Hewitt noted that 90 per cent of the residents came to the public works meeting, objecting to sidewalks, so the committee recommended removing the sidewalks from the project.
Councillor Marsha Leggett cautioned council against setting a precedent of not upholding its policy which states that reconstruction of older streets in the municipality will include sidewalks.
"If we can't justify that policy for reconstruction around the high school, we'll have it questioned all the time," agreed deputy mayor Laura Haight. "We eliminated the boulevards (between the streets and the sidewalks) and we accommodated a lot of concerns. But the public works committee agreed with the residents. I'm afraid of the consequences of this."
"It's a quiet street," said councillor Mike Leggett. "The traffic is not there. I'm saying no to the sidewalks; we'd be disrupting people's lives."
Bill Clubb, speaking on behalf of the residents, presented a petition of those opposed to sidewalks. "Some houses there are 150 years old and were built too close to the road," he said. "Sidewalks will move everything closer to all of those homes. There's also a problem with snow being plowed up against houses and cars."
He said if council is so concerned about safety, it should look at River Lane, west of the high school, where students walk from the soccer field and the portables on the west side to reach the school. There are no crosswalks or lights and no sidewalk, he said, and students often walk between parked cars there.
Meanwhile, Maureen Couture, a resident of William Street for 20 years, endorsed the installation of sidewalks for safety of students and pedestrians in that area. It's also municipal policy to install sidewalks when there is construction or reconstruction in an urban area, she said.
Dan Hobler, principal of KDSS, also addressed council, saying sidewalks will make the area safer for the 750 students who attend the high school, the 75 staff, the 100-plus vehicles, and the 20-30 buses that travel there.
"I know for sure that if there are no sidewalks,
the students will definitely be walking on the road," he said.
"I can support sidewalks on South Street but not on William," said Hewitt.
"I can't believe we're considering not putting in sidewalks," said Haight. "Sidewalks are safer for pedestrians and drivers and that's what our policy provides - safe pedestrian and vehicular traffic."
"It'll take a generation of students at KDSS before they would walk on the sidewalks anyway," said councillor Kenneth Craig.
"A generation from now, the high school might not even be there," said Mike Leggett.
"It's a beautiful area but we must err on the side of safety and go with sidewalks," said mayor Larry Kraemer. "It's more than a neighbourhood issue. It's a busy spot and we must protect the people who use it."
O'Rourke said a compromise has been reached to keep South Street at the six-metre width, with an increase to 8.3 metres for the curves at William and at Charles, for safety. There will be no boulevards between the roadway and the sidewalks - all of this will help save many of the mature trees in the area, he said.
In a straw vote, councillors Mike Leggett, Hewitt and Gordon Campbell opposed sidewalks, while Kraemer, Craig, Marsha Leggett, Anderson, Haight and councillor Randy Roppel were in favour.
Later during the council meeting, the contract was awarded to Omega Contractors Inc. at the price of $1,820,725.10. That was the lowest of five bids; the others were $2,013,590.40 from Lavis Contracting, $2,071,237.50 from SMRS Construction, $2,118,955.82 from 291 Constructions Ltd., and $2,161,684.88 from Elgin Construction.
In a recorded vote, the final tally was 6-3, with Kraemer, Haight, Craig, Marsha Leggett, Anderson and Roppel in favour, and Campbell, Mike Leggett and Hewitt opposed.
Omega also won the contract to do road reconstruction work for the Huron Ridge area (Golf Links and Glencoe), installing a trunk sanitary sewer at a cost of about $225,000, plus engineering and contingencies. This cost will be recouped from the owner of the upstream lands as the work will solely benefit that owner whose lands are not presently serviced, said O'Rourke.