The City of London wants to add sidewalks to some streets in the areas of White Hills, Glen Cairn and Grenfell. And they’re asking for feedback from residents who live in those areas, on which streets should have sidewalks.
“We know pavements are an issue that people are very concerned about, and we’ve heard from Londoners on both sides,” said Jennie Dann, director of the city’s building and infrastructure services.
Residents want a more deliberate and strategic method that considers entire neighborhoods, instead of just certain streets, she added.
City staff are looking to learn more about the travel patterns of people who live in these areas and what benefits or harms sidewalks would bring to streets, with the goal of increasing accessibility and connectivity between them. .
“We’re looking to engage with neighborhoods to get a better sense of their needs to help us determine where we should add sidewalks in a way that adds value and makes the whole area better connected,” Dann said.
Dann’s team will also work with community partners and local agencies like nearby schools and London Transit, who can help make recommendations on where pavements would be best suited.
CBC News visited Glen Cairn and White Hills and spoke with some residents about how they would feel about having sidewalks on their streets and their involvement in the city plan. Here is what they said.
Natalie McLeod has lived in the Glen Cairn neighborhood for many years now, and she’s been pushing for sidewalks to be installed on both sides of her street, which has two neighboring schools that generate a lot of pedestrian activity and heavy traffic.
But those calls have gone unanswered by the city in the past – an approach they are now seeking to change.
“A lot of kids are walking alone and they’re all over the road and stuff so for them I don’t feel very safe but if there were sidewalks I think it would keep them safer “McLeod said.
Dann says the concerns of people who support and oppose sidewalks are valid and need to be addressed.
“Some people worry about the impact sidewalks might have on the streetscape in front of their properties, and others worry about safety and accessibility in areas where there are no sidewalks and maybe walking their kids to school,” she said.
But John Collins, who has lived in the same neighborhood as McLeod for more than 20 years, says the city is missing the mark when it comes to prioritizing the most important issues.
“There are more than enough sidewalks to get us around, there are no safety hazards. All sidewalks connect children to the schools they go to, you can’t protect children from everything,” said he declared.
However, he says the only street that could use a sidewalk would be Cleveland Avenue, along Burlington Street. He thinks the city needs to focus on adding other amenities to his neighborhood, not something insignificant like sidewalks.
Kathy Work-Schlattman thinks sidewalks aren’t as important as improving street cleaning on Eagle Cres.
“It’s a pretty quiet street, I don’t see that being necessary at all, we all use the street and look out for each other,” she said. “I’m a former teacher so I’m very focused on keeping the kids safe, but I don’t think sidewalks will make it much safer.”
Work-Schlattman says she doesn’t see how public input would impact the city’s decision. She believes they will do whatever they want.
“There’s a neighborhood that loudly protested they didn’t want sidewalks, but the city went ahead anyway. I think that’s putting honey on a sticky situation,” she added.
Dann says the city is looking at a multitude of factors, including where people walk to frequently, where they see the most pedestrian activity and how they could benefit from building a sidewalk.
Lee Gavin thinks sidewalks aren’t necessary for a crescent street that overlooks a ravine. He has two young children who play all kinds of sports on the road and says safety has never been an issue.
“Our street is super quiet, we don’t really need sidewalks. People are pretty comfortable walking our streets. Sidewalks are only needed in high traffic areas,” he said. .
Dann says the city has received a lot of feedback so far. They will have walk-in sessions and virtual webinars for each of the areas, and encourage residents to visit the city’s website to take surveys to provide their input.