Kincardine council sticks with sidewalk plan near KDSS

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Despite objections from neighbourhood residents, a road reconstruction project near KDSS will include sidewalks.

Council voted 6-3 in favour of including sidewalks on Charles, William and South Streets. The municipality also awarded the tender for the reconstruction project to Omega Contracting, at a total cost of $1,820,725.

Kincardine’s public works committee met several times with concerned residents to adjust the plans for the large road project. Special attention was given to minimizing the amount of private property that will be lost to road widening and the safety of residents and high school students alike.

Public works manager Jim O’Rourke laid out the final proposal to council Oct. 1. The plan calls for Charles Street to be reconstructed to urban road standards, with a six-metre road width, a sidewalk on its west side and a new watermain and storm sewer.

South Street will also be reconstructed. Plans call for a six metre road width with sidewalks and a new sanitary sewer. Due to a sharp turn on the street, one section of the road will be the full eight-and-a-half metres wide to allow for a safe turning radius.

William Street will also be constructed to the new urban road standard, with a six-metre total road width.

The final neighbourhood road being reconstructed is Wall Street. Plans don’t call for sidewalks on this street, but it will be fixed from James Street to William Street and the sanitary sewer will be replaced, a watermain will also be installed and there will be private hookup options to the sewer system.

A delegation of residents, led by Bill Clubb has protested the need for sidewalks during all stages of planning for the road work. The public works committee sided with the residents and recommended removing the sidewalks from the project.

Clubb told council that most of the houses in the neighbourhood were built too close to the road. He said sidewalks would put the homes even closer to the new roads and cause problems with snow removal. Residents are also concerned sidewalks will destroy the old neighbourhood’s classic character.

Clubb said he understands the desire for safety on Kincardine’s roads, but, installing sidewalks won’t change the situation. He said students will still walk in large groups along the roadways, ignoring sidewalks. He also said other safety issues, like a crosswalk on River Lane, would make more sense than sidewalks in the neighbourhood.

“There have been lots of good discussions here,” Clubb said. “Putting in sidewalks doesn’t show real concern for safety.”

Former councillor Maureen Couture, a long-time resident of the neighbourhood, spoke in favour of sidewalks.  She said not building the new roads to the urban standard goes against municipal policy and could start a dangerous precedent.

KDSS principal Dan Hobler also asked council to include sidewalks in its final project. He said students will continue to walk on the road if there is not the option of sidewalks. KDSS is a community of 859 people, he said, and sidewalks would be a welcome addition to the area.

“It’s an excellent plan,” he said. “It’s a complex and difficult decision (council is facing) but I believe sidewalks will enhance the safety of our students.”

Deputy mayor Laura Haight is the chair of the public works committee. Although the committee voted to axe the sidewalks, she is in favour of including them. She also believes not following policy will have consequences on future road projects.

A traffic study conducted by public works showed the majority of traffic using James Street. That road is not up for reconstruction in this current project, but, when it is redone it will include sidewalks. Councillor Gord Campbell voted against including sidewalks in the current project saying it’s not what the residents want.

“I think snow collection will be a problem for the people living there,” he said. “I’ll be supporting the people.”

Councillor Guy Anderson said he was pleased the new proposal has taken steps to minimize the size of the sidewalks and reduce the road width.  He supports the sidewalks as a way to keep students safe.

“There are 120 opportunities for students to get hit every day,” said mayor Larry Kraemer. “That’s more than I’m willing to take a chance on.”

Campbell asked for a recorded vote on the inclusion of sidewalks and awarding the tender. Councillors Campbell, Mike Leggett and Ron Hewitt voted against the motion.

The tender also includes work on Golf Links Road and Glencoe Street in the Huron Ridge subdivision.

Despite the fact sidewalks will still be part of the plan; Clubb thanked council for their fairness and applauded the work of the public works committee in reaching some compromises with the project.