OPINION: Car-centric Cornwall

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By Nick Seebruch
OPINION: Car-centric Cornwall

There are a few major ongoing stories in Cornwall that I’ve been following this year. The most important, and the one that everything else hinges on, is the population growth that the City of Cornwall is experiencing.

Last week, I talked about the importance of the census. The fact that the City of Cornwall has several major residential building projects on the go, including the Northwoods and Baldwin Ave. subdivisions speaks to the growth that the city is experiencing, but only a census can give a clearer picture of where Cornwall sits population wise.

As the city grows, this leads to several other major decisions that will need to be made as to how Cornwall develops.

One such decision is how we get around. For a long time, I have felt that Cornwall is a very car-centric city, and I’m not the only one. I’ve had members of the public comment to me that to go anywhere in this city and to have a freedom of movement, you need a car.

There are however some real advantages to being more friendly to bicycles and pedestrians. Cornwall has already been making some great strides towards becoming a more bike friendly community. Four years ago, Cornwall was awarded the bronze level for being a Bicycle Friendly Community by the Share the Road Bicycle Coalition and was upgraded to silver level this year.

This past month, Cornwall took another step towards supporting a new way of getting around the city that doesn’t involve cars, pedicabs.

The Senior Friendly Community Committee received funding from the Rotary Club of Cornwall Sunrise for their summer pedicab project.

The project will see volunteers take seniors around the city to show off what Cornwall has to offer. Committee member Bernard Lamarche told me that it was not just about supporting seniors who already live in Cornwall, but also about showcasing the city to tourists and potential new residents.

“We want to make it attractive and feel like home,” Lamarche said. “We have so many assets here that we want to show.”

The pedicab that will be used for this project is being leased to the committee by Waterfront Tours, a new company starting up just this summer which will man two other pedicabs around the city giving tours along the waterfront. Waterfront Tours is already getting ready for a partnership with restaurants to offer meals at the end of some of these tours, which sounds like a great way to not only show off the city, but also support our restaurants during this difficult time.

Not just being bike friendly, but being pedestrian friendly too has its advantages. Being a walkable city is not just healthy for residents, but it is healthy for businesses too. Residents are more likely to visit and spend money at more businesses if they are packed together in a more walkable environment.

Being a walkable city also means being an accessible city and if Cornwall wants to continue to grow, then it needs to be accessible for those who maybe cannot afford a car (see the rising gas prices) or perhaps seniors who no longer want the hassle of owning a car, but still live independently and want to get around.

There are a few different initiatives that Cornwall can look at to move away from being so car-centric. This is a trend that has been happening across North America during the pandemic, so there are a lot of examples to pick from. Many of these initiatives are aimed at supporting restaurants, which is a double win for Cornwall which has a lot of great places to eat. In Tampa, Florida, that city is running a pilot program to allow restaurants to take up parking spaces for outdoor dining tables. In Berkley, California, that city is taking it a step further by allowing some downtown streets to be closed during peak hours so that restaurants can setup tables in the street.

This summer will be much like last year’s, with few events, and indoor dining likely restricted, at least for a little while. By facilitating walkable streets and giving more spaces to restaurants to setup dining tables not only would Cornwall be giving people more things to do, they would also be providing an economic boost to a hard-hit sector of the economy.

What do you think readers? Is Cornwall a car-centric community? Is this a bad thing? Email me a Letter to the Editor at nseebruch@seawaynews.media

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