Chet Greason email@example.com
A plan to widen a section of Nile Street in order to accommodate buses and the city’s Bike and Pedestrian Master Plan failed to gain traction at the meeting of council on Monday, July 28.
The recommendation from subcommittee called for the section of road from Shakespeare to Douro Street to be rebuilt at its current width of 6.7 metres, but to shift the road to the west, eliminating the sidewalk on that side but retaining the sidewalk on the east side. On-street parking would only have been allowed on one side of the street in order to make room for buses and bicycles – as per the city’s Bike and Pedestrian Master Plan, which identified the stretch of road between Douro and Guelph as a proposed route.
However, Coun. Karen Smythe began the discussion by putting forth a motion that Nile Street be reconstructed in its current state, with both sidewalks and all parking intact.
This was met by applause by some residents in the audience.
At the request of Coun. Keith Culliton, who seconded the motion, residents Brad Horton and Paul Gorman presented some of the issues Nile Street residents had with the original recommendation.
“We have a narrow street,” said Horton. “On-street parking is necessary.” He also said that, by removing the sidewalks on the west side, homeowners on that side could expect their front yards to be reduced to “mudholes” once pedestrians begin walking across them anyway.
Gorman noted the student traffic attending Jeanne Sauvé and Romeo schools further north up the street.
“The schools should have a sidewalk,” he said, adding that police officers he had talked to had told him Nile Street was the worst street in town for people on bikes running stop signs.
“I respect cyclists, but maybe this is not the street to use.”
However, some councillors were unhappy with the about-face. Coun. George Brown noted a bylaw that was passed that deemed one sidewalk enough for residential streets in order to save money.
“Many streets have one sidewalk. Some have none,” he said. “If we’re going to give in every time a group shows up, why pass bylaws in the first place?”
Coun. Bonnie Henderson opined that, if a sidewalk was to be done away with, it should be the one of the east side, as the schools are located on the west side. Director of infrastructure and development services, Ed Dujlovic, explained that the east sidewalk was kept so as not to disturb the existing power lines and poles.
Coun. Kerry McManus took issue with ignoring the Bike and Pedestrian Master Plan, noting the big investment the city had made in developing it, from hiring consultants to meeting with the public on several occasions.
“I understand we like the parking spot in front of our house,” she said. “But our responsibility is to the whole community.”
After Smythe’s motion was passed, McManus suggested the public be advised “so as not to put staff at the front and centre of any controversy."
Dujlovic told council that a new plan would have to be drawn up based on the night’s decision, and to expect it by late August or early September. The Nile Street reconstruction will then likely go to tender early next year.