Accessibility Advisory Committee recognizes risks of removing sidewalks in Brock

In response to the Township’s original plan to remove more than three kilometres of sidewalks in Brock this year, the Accessibility Advisory Committee says there is risk in doing so if it means forcing pedestrians to walk on the road.

After the proposal to remove three kilometres of sidewalks in Brock came to Council in March, the decision was deferred to allow for feedback from the Brock Accessibility Advisory Committee (BAAC). That feedback is included in the agenda for Monday’s (Sept. 10) Public Works Committee meeting.

Read more: Sidewalks on the chopping block in Brock

Read more: Decision on sidewalk removal deferred by Council

In addition to determining minimum standards for sidewalks to be installed as well as locations where sidewalks are required, the BAAC was also asked to determine an action plan for sub-standard sidewalks and develop work plans for 2018 and for the next five years.

The Committee agreed the minimum standards should align with the Ontario Provincial Standard as well as the Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act requirements for new sidewalks and walkways. They also noted that the minimum standard for sidewalk locations should be similar to that required in new subdivisions.

In the explanation of these requirements, the report from staff states local roads shall have sidewalk installed on one side of the road while collector roads should have sidewalk on both sides. Furthermore, consideration should be given to traffic volumes, number of homes and location of amenities. Such amenities include:

  • Schools
  • Parks
  • Libraries
  • Community Centres
  • Town Halls
  • Medical Centres
  • Seniors buildings
  • Subsidized housing
  • Commercial areas

With respect to building a work plan, the BAAC says the first step is to create a priority sidewalk network to determine which of the narrow sidewalks in Brock should remain.

According to the report, “the committee discussed that there may be a liability if we remove sidewalks that are already established even though the sidewalk is not maintained in the winter since now users will be forced to utilize the road or grassed boulevard.”

The amenities listed above should be considered when deciding where sidewalks should be left in place, reads the report.

“Some sidewalks could be removed if there is a sidewalk on both sides of the road. Spot repairs should be made on the sidewalks that are to remain as part of the sidewalk network. Staff should also investigate the purchase of equipment to permit the maintenance of the narrow sidewalks in the winter,” continues the report.

The five-year plan, in addition to establishing the priority sidewalk network, includes consideration of alternate construction and maintenance methods for new sidewalks and maintenance of existing sidewalks.

The report also notes, “it is possible to remove and sod sidewalks where there is a sidewalk on both sides of the street, however, we need to be aware of the possible liability of removing a sidewalk and not providing an alternate location.”

Spot repairs to poor sections of sidewalks should also be considered, according to the report, instead of complete removal.

Staff are recommending that the $158,875 set out in the 2018 Capital Budget be divided and used as follows:

  • $20,000 for the east side of Albert Street South from River to Water in Sunderland (consistent with the initial report);
  • $18,875 for the east side of Adelaide Street from the CHC to McKay in Cannington ($8,875 more than in the initial report);
  • $20,000 to use “alternate construction methods” to improve existing sidewalks (not mentioned in initial report);
  • $25,000 to buy specialized equipment for maintaining narrow sidewalks int he winter (not mentioned in initial report); and
  • $75,000 for repairs to existing sidewalks that are in poor or fair condition (not planned for in 2018, according to initial report).

A priority sidewalk network will be developed using data from the 2018 Road Needs Study being completed by the Township’s consultant, according to staff.

At the time the initial proposal was presented to Council, it was presented as a method to reduce the trip and fall liability to the Township, as staff recognized many sidewalks are not maintained during the winter and are in poor condition.

“I understand the trip and fall liability…I am concerned about ripping out these sidewalks,” said Councillor Therese Miller at the time.

Mayor John Grant, however, was in favour of the initial plan.

“At least we’re dealing with it. And the way we’re going about it just makes so much sense,” he said in March.

The original plan did include the potential replacement of more than 8,500 metres of sidewalk but there was no timeline provided for such work. The initial report did propose spending $128,875 in 2018 on the removal of sidewalks, and only $30,000 on repairs. The draft sidewalk plans for Beaverton, Sunderland and Cannington, provided to councillors in March, can be found below.

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