EDITOR - TODD LIHOU: Shelving the Thirteenth Street sidewalk sends the wrong message to residents

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Well, at least some of them tried.

During a city council meeting that has to rank up there with watching paint dry as far as news value is concerned, a collection of councillors tried, unsuccessfully, to get a sidewalk on Thirteenth Street shelved.

Residents living in the neighbourhood signed a petition asking the city to cancel the project, in large part because they don't want the properties dug up to allow for the construction.

Councillors David Murphy, Glen Grant, Denis Thibault and Maurice Dupelle sided with the residents.

Grant couldn’t have summed the item up any simpler.

"The people there don’t want one – so why are we going to put one there?"

Exactly.

Of course the city has a plan that suggests so-called "arterial" streets like Thirteenth require such a sidewalk.

Big deal. The reality is even though the city has policies that suggest it must conduct itself in a certain way, it often charts a different course.

The city's reserve funds are constantly used to finance municipal projects, despite the fact that there is a policy to save money for a rainy day via surpluses.

"We need to have a policy people will stick to," said Coun. Denis Carr weeks ago when the city got a lecture about the state of its reserves. "We're bad for policies because we put them in and then we break them."

But the overriding factor in this sidewalk debate lies in the fact that city councillors are elected to make decisions on behalf of residents – in many cases reflecting the will of the people.

Or at least that's the general idea.

In this case the majority of councillors have dismissed the desire of the electorate and, once again, done what they want.

Their reasoning may appear sound on the surface. There are a number of schools in the neighbourhood, which means young people will be walking back and forth to school. With cars whizzing by on Thirteenth Street there are concerns about the safety of children.

Fair enough – but it's not like homeowners in this neighbourhood were forced to purchase their houses.

I would argue they were well aware of the sidewalk situation on Thirteenth Street long before they moved in.

It's like that at my house. On our particular street there is just one sidewalk, and my wife and I have to cross the street to get to it. We knew that going in, and are hardly in a position to argue differently.

It reminds me of a story that circulated not long ago concerning homes in a new development in Cornwall's east end.

The development is south of Second Street East, near Boundary Road. Word has it residents were complaining about the noise coming from some of the businesses north of Second Street.

Really?

You bought a home that is a stone's throw from the industrial park…what did you think it would be like? My parents bought a home in the shadow of Domtar – they knew it would loud and smelly some days, but you have to expect such things.

The fact is, as far as this sidewalk is concerned, the majority of city council have politely dismissed a request from residents. For years those same city councillors have lamented the apathy among many in Cornwall when it comes to getting involved in the decision-making process.

Here is a clear cut case of a municipal issue as Canadian as maple syrup and ice-cold beer – a group of residents complaining about a sidewalk.

City council will argue their plea was heard, but respectfully set aside.

The residents, I'm sure, will say they were ignored.

The truth is somewhere in the middle, but if I were a resident of that neighbourhood I would be plenty upset right now.

Organizations: Domtar

Geographic location: Thirteenth Street, Cornwall, Second Street East Boundary Road

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Recent comments

  • Shannon Simpson
    August 07, 2014 - 13:53

    Hi Todd, If you could publish the following PSA, it would be greatly appreciated. Become a CNIB Vision Mate Shopping. Reading. Taking a stroll down the street. Imagine losing some or all of your vision. How would you tackle daily tasks such as reading your mail, organizing things around your home or buying groceries? Having someone to provide sighted assistance can make all the difference. We invite you to make a difference in the life of someone who is blind or partially sighted by volunteering just a couple of hours a week. As a Vision Mate, you’ll be matched with someone with vision loss in your area to help them with everyday activities like running errands and going for a walk. To volunteer as a Vision Mate, please contact Perpetua Quigley at 613-563-4021 ext. 5002 or perpetua.quigley@cnib.ca. Thank you for your support.

  • Wayne Sorbie
    June 14, 2014 - 08:11

    Todd: Further to your article on the ignoring of the wants of the residents on 13th st., we were assured on the morning of the meeting, by one of our supporters, that we had the votes to stop this sidewalk. I had written confirmation from our 4 supporters, and verbal confirmation of support from another 2 who changed their vote at the Council Meeting to screw us royally. On behalf of my fellow taxpayers on 13th street ,I thanked our 4 supporters and chastised the 2 that deserted us at the last minute. Nice to know that there are still a few people in politics with integrity.