Town still planning to remove sidewalk

Duane Hicks

Having voted in favour of removing the sidewalk on the east side of Armit Avenue, between Church Street and Front Street, at its Sept. 12 meeting, town council decided last night to stand by its decision.
Council had received a letter from Dr. Cam Moorhouse asking it to reconsider the decision.
While council voted unanimously to reconsider the matter, after discussion it agreed the matter should proceed as previously directed and the sidewalk be removed.
Coun. Ken Perry, who sits on the Operations and Facilities executive committee, noted the committee checked out the sidewalk in question in late September, adding it “is in horrible condition” and “could not meet minimum standards in any way, shape, or form.”
“I think to replace that sidewalk, we would have to take out one of the large trees that are on that boulevard,” he remarked.
“There is a sidewalk on the other side of the street, and to remove a big tree, and possibly more than one . . . I don’t think it’s practical to put that sidewalk back in and remove that tree,” Coun. Perry reasoned.
Coun. Paul Ryan agreed, noting that if the town were to replace the sidewalk, it also would have to dig deep and put a granular, free-draining material underneath.
“That would put all those trees in jeopardy,” he warned.
“I think people would be more concerned about losing the trees than losing the sidewalk.”
Coun. Ryan pointed out that in one part of the sidewalk, a main taproot has moved it up by more than a foot. This is in stark contrast to minimum maintenance standards, which indicate surface discontinuities shouldn’t be more than 20 mm.
He also noted the sidewalk on the west side of the avenue is in “very good condition,” the town is making repairs to it, and it still will serve as a “nice walkway down to the river.”
Operations and Facilities manager Doug Brown said the east sidewalk, which dates back to 1916, is broken up where trees have lifted it.
He added whether or not to remove sidewalks has been a topic of debate in recent years, with one of the criteria being whether a sidewalk warrants repair or not.
“We can’t afford to do all the sidewalks,” Brown stressed. “In a perfect world, we could afford it, we could replace every sidewalk.
“I think we’re getting to the point where we’re trying to make sure people are active in the community and we have a good network of sidewalks,” he added.
“Between Nelson and Front Street, on the east side, that sidewalk is basically obsolete.”
In his letter, Dr. Moorhouse wrote that he owns a home at 202 Armit Ave., which he rents to the hospital for housing long-term medical students and short-term emergency room physicians, adding the home and property were upgraded extensively over the last year, including sidewalk renovations.
Dr. Moorhouse read in the Sept. 14 edition of the Times that the town proposed to remove the sidewalk, which he called “a pleasant, much-used walkway amongst tall trees approaching the river.”
He added he’d like to see a study that indicates the sidewalk is “under-used” compared to any other sidewalk in town.
“Please reconsider this. I do object,” wrote Dr. Moorhouse. “I wasn’t canvassed as a local homeowner for input, the removal will detract from the property’s utility and value, and will detract from the town’s attractiveness.
“I acknowledge the sidewalk is no doubt old and starting to heave,” he continued.
“Repair when you’re able, I’d much rather live with some imperfect alignment and cracks for some years than have it removed.”