April 25, 2018: HRM Active Transportation staff join our monthly meeting to discuss safety in the area of the 500 block of Herring Cove Road that is not serviced by sidewalks. Present were members of the SCA and Chebucto Connections.
There was a vigorous discussion and debate regarding the pros and cons of accepting a temporary solution vs. waiting another year for a permanent one; also known as putting in an asphalt shoulder with cement barricade vs. putting in a real sidewalk with proper drainage.
There are folks who fall into both camps, The SCA is an open and democratic type of organization that likes to hear all sides of the issues. I happen to be in the “Permanent Solution Party” because the asphalt shoulder option poses some issues for me strategically, technically, financially and emotionally… so let’s break it down!
Strategically: Although paving the shoulder with asphalt will make it easier to walk there, the asphalt shoulder will allow the city to put off installing a real sidewalk for several more years.
Technically: We don’t know how the asphalt shoulder and barricades will effect snow removal, and the barricades may also impair access to buses for people who use mobility aids like walkers and wheelchairs.
Financially: The asphalt shoulder option will cost upwards of $300,000. This is a lot to spend on a “temporary” fix that will get torn up to be replaced by a sidewalk in the future.
Emotionally: The asphalt shoulder and barricade solution looks bad, and it sends the message that the people who will use them don’t deserve better.
The Active Transportation staff brought some good news, which is that the city has been taking a lot of action on this project, and it has gotten the attention of Council and staff as a top priority. That means that our advocacy has made a difference, and we will continue to share our thoughts with the city about the need for a real solution to pedestrian safety in Spryfield, especially the 500 block. Active Transportation agrees that a real sidewalk is what should happen here. The chances of us getting a permanent solution are good for 2019 if we keep our voices up!
Like I said, the SCA is a democratic type of group. We took a vote during the meeting, and the majority present were in support for waiting another year for a real sidewalk. That sentiment will be taken back to HRM by the Active Transportation staff who came to consult with us, and we hope will aid in us getting the results we want.