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Burlington Council Votes to Approve Sidewalk on Strathcona Drive

Strathcona Drive.

During today’s (April 25) continuation of the Burlington City Council meeting that was recessed from Monday (April 23), a majority vote approved a motion from Ward 4 Councillor Shawna Stolte regarding the installation of a sidewalk on Strathcona Drive. I was the sole member of Council who voted against the motion and I have outlined my reasons below in My Take.

Approved Motion:

  • Proceed with a 1.8 m sidewalk on the east side of Strathcona Drive, with 1.5 m of the sidewalk to be constructed within the roadway, and 0.3 m into the existing boulevard; and
  • Proceed with no sidewalks on Lorraine Crescent, Apple Valley Lane, Applevale Court and McIntosh Place; and
  • Direct that construction of the sidewalk on Strathcona Drive not be subject to local improvement charges, as per Local Improvement By-law 49-2017.

Background:

At the April 1, 2019 Committee of the Whole meeting, committee members approved a motion to have further public consultation on three options regarding sidewalks on Strathcona Drive:

  • no sidewalks;
  • sidewalk on the east side within the footprint of the existing road; or
  • no sidewalks with painted lines on the road as a pedestrian path.

Following the meeting, city staff advised that painted lines do not meet the safety standards required by the city for safe pedestrian travel and they could not support the option of painted lines on Strathcona. Therefore, this option was removed.

Public consultation:

A letter was hand-delivered to 453 homes in the Strathcona neighbourhood spanning the block from Walker’s Line, New Street, Belvenia Road and Lakeshore Road.

The letter outlined the two options and residents were asked to submit their feedback by completing a comment sheet or an online survey. They were also invited to a community meeting on April 15 to learn more about the two options and ask questions. Approximately 40 residents attended the meeting, including myself, Councillors Shawna Stolte and Angelo Bentivegna and city staff from Capital Works and Transportation Services.

Feedback:

In total, 91 households (22%) in the distribution area provided input. The results are outlined below.

StreetOption 4 – no sidewalksOption 6- sidewalk on the east side of Strathcona
West side of Strathcona Drive142
East side of Strathcona Drive187
TOTAL STRATHCONA DRIVE329
NEIGHBOURING STREETS2228
TOTALS5437

Plus an additional 11 surveys not included in the above totals but submitted by neighbourhood residents who live just outside the distribution area and regularly enjoy walking and biking in the Strathcona neighbourhood.

8 households wanting Option 6 (sidewalk on the east side of Strathcona)

3 households wanting Option 4 (no sidewalks)

 

MY TAKE:

I was the sole dissenter on this decision and here is why I voted the way I did. We cannot approve a plan that takes out green space in our communities while our City has just declared a climate emergency days before. Nor can we approve a plan that adds hard (non-permeable) infrastructure where it is not necessary and when we have an infrastructure deficit across our City. We can’t keep up with maintenance, repair and snow clearing of the roads and sidewalks we already have — it makes no sense to add more unnecessary infrastructure.

There was no demonstrated safety issue on Strathcona Drive — this is an area that has experienced 60 years of safe streets and that is not to be dismissed lightly.

My approach has always been that not every street deserves a sidewalk. We decided one wasn’t warranted on Lorraine Crescent, Apple Valley Lane, Applevale Court and McIntosh Place — was one warranted on Strathcona? It is my view that it was not.

Our City’s warrant policy led to an initial recommendation of sidewalks on both sides of Strathcona, sidewalks on many neighboring streets, massive cuts to neighbourhood trees and significant loss of green space — at a time we are trying to combat flooding and climate change with natural green space instead of hard infrastructure.

That shows that our warrant policy needs to be revisited and updated with a climate lens.

Many revisions were made since the initial proposal and many hours of work were spent doing so. I do appreciate the work and effort that went into this and the compromised motion that came forward, but in my opinion, this initiative is a solution to a problem that doesn’t exist and it seems like it was done so that it appears we are doing something without meaningful increases to walkability in an area that is already safely walkable.

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17 thoughts on “Burlington Council Votes to Approve Sidewalk on Strathcona Drive”

  1. I lived on Apple Valley Lane for a number of years and frequently used Strathcona to walk to Eastway Plaza.
    Strathcona does not require a sidewalk. It is wide enough to accommodate cars and pedestrians and the large lawns and wide lots contribute to the rural feeling. During the day it is definitely not a busy street.
    It is somewhat curvy and so cars are not inclined to speed. I agree with Marianne – not every street needs a sidewalk.
    The majority of people who live on that street didn’t want a sidewalk, and so politicians should have listened to them

  2. I think it is time the City establishes guidelines to determine matters relating to sidewalks, speed bumps, stop signs, etc. One can understand why some folks get upset when their neighborhood gets treated differently than others. The mentality that the neighborhoods that show up to complain at City Hall with the most pitchforks and torches win. Has the effect of pitting neighborhoods and neighbors against each other. Which appears to be true in this case. Same rules should apply equally to all similar neighborhoods.

  3. I lived on a street with no sidewalks for a number of years. I found it quieter, and while there were quite a few kids on the street, none were injured as a result of using the road for access and for play. I think that trees are more important than concrete in this era of climate change, and on quieter streets we should not add infrastructure when we need more trees.

  4. 79% of people who live on Strathcona want no sidewalks. Thank you, Mayor Meed Ward for considering the environment and for always listening to residents!

  5. There is NO need for sidewalks on Strathcona. There have been no pedestrians hurt by vehicular traffic on our street since the inception of our neighbourhood. To add to our already failing system of sidewalk clearing in the winter and heaved sections in need of repair makes no sense for the amount of people who walk our street. If there were a permeable concrete at least it would not be a hindrance to our already over loaded world. As for permeable pavement ,it is available but supposedly unaffordable. Perhaps the money from no sidewalks could be used towards a green pavement. Let’s be part of the fix for our environment instead of a hindrance.

  6. The street I live on went through this exact same issue a few years ago. Similar situation – north / south between Lakeshore and New. We were told we had to have a sidewalk because it was city by-law / policy that through streets had to. Now I watch people walk up the street and not use the sidewalk. I watch the grates clog up and cause water back up. I watch the rain torrent down the street without flowing onto grassed and trees areas.
    And to add insult the street had already been torn up in recent years for water and sewer main projects. Then we dug it up again. Total cost of ownership of infrastructure?

  7. Call me a sore loser but the vote taken at Council on this issue was a travesty. Councilor Stolte put forward a misguided motion at the April 1 Committee of the Whole, it then went through many gyrations in order for her to save “political face”, rather than take the high road and withdraw the motion.

    I would appreciate your thoughts on the following that I have brought to the attention of the Administration:

    “The Motion passed today defined the sidewalks as a Local Improvement. Waiving the Local Improvement charges does not change the definition of what constitutes a Local Improvement. Given this and the fact that the majority of the affected residents are against the improvement this project cannot proceed for two years. I will wait until their is a formal reply from the Legal Department before pursuing this further.”

    The by-law issue was brought up at the April 1 meeting but was never responded to. Are you supportive of invoking the by-law and delaying the project?

    Don Matthews
    dgmatt52@gmail.com

  8. I think it is a total waste of taxpayer dollars. The people who live on the street should have their vote mean something. How many of the councillors that voted yes actually live on the street and will have to live with the impact this will have on the residents. Reminds me of the New Street diet! A joke.

  9. Respectfully, I don’t understand how you justify your take here.

    “Following the meeting, city staff advised that painted lines do not meet the safety standards required by the city for safe pedestrian travel and they could not support the option of painted lines on Strathcona.”

    If painted lines do not meet safety standards, then surely it would be logical to expect that no painted lines (and no sidewalks) would also not meet safety standards.

    Do people walking in Burlington deserve to have infrastructure that meets safety requirements? Providing this is one of the priorities in the Strategic Plan which you voted for in 2016. Every time we fix a road, these requirements are reviewed and the City’s job is to ensure that the infrastructure is safe for all users. I was under the impression that you were supportive of that.

    While there may not have been any issues here yet, there are other streets in the city with no sidewalks where people walking have been killed by distracted, impaired and speeding motorists. Residents have reported that this occurs on Strathcona, and recently requested traffic calming. So how can this be a non-issue now?

    Much of Burlington’s mid 20th century development may have been built as a city that was built around accommodating the car and only the car. This is something that must change, particularly as you have just voted to declare a climate emergency. The take above does not seem to be consistent with what you have supported in the past and this concerns me greatly as a resident and supporter of safe & complete streets.

    1. Hello Chris – the only canada411 search I made was to locate you living on Pathfinder Drive – far and away from the people that will be affected by this sidewalk debate. Can you advise us all as to how you qualify as an expert on this issue and how this affects you?

      1. This affects me as it affects all residents of Burlington. People not in cars are equally deserving of safe mobility, anywhere in our city, as those in cars. A matter of principle. If one street is allowed to opt out, it reduces safety for everyone.

        If Strathcona Drive were a consumer product, or a car, it would be subject to a safety recall. This is why city staff recommended sidewalks be installed when the road was resurfaced. Walkable neighbourhoods is a fundamental quality of life issue which I am willing to stand up and support everywhere in the City.

  10. I support Shawna Stolte completely, remember the last election when councilors ignored thier constituents.

    1. This is a democracy and I appreciate your comment , but are you going to blindly support her when she has obviously NOT listened to her constituents on this issue? Please look at the facts

    2. Ignored her constituents? This is exactly what Ms. Stolte just did. She went against the majority of her constituents.

    3. I use Strathcona Drive to walk my children to school. I continually have to look behind me or walk on the grass to avoid the speeding and passing cars on this route in the morning and after school. Installing sidewalks for pedestrian safety should be the priority and only reason instead of counting on one incident or fatality to validate this change. Traffic patterns have changed in the last 40 years and studies conducted by the city warranted this change. It is concerning that wider streets and less grass would override the safety of our children who walk to school.

  11. This is no different than the city installing speed bumps, stop sign & traffic lights all over the place without due consideration of the impact they’re having or without heeding or seeking input from local residents or acting on any input. At times its like having blinders on while beureaucrats barrel down their own one way tunnel visioned street,

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