Although construction on Chine Drive sidewalks was to start this spring, a resident’s environmental concerns has stalled the project.
Chine Drive Public School is located at the end of the street making the roadway a main path for students. A petition online with 108 supporters is asking Mayor Rob Ford and Coun. Gary Crawford of Ward 36 to have the sidewalks in by summer. That deadline is now unattainable.
A resident of Chine Drive and a mother to a young student at Chine Drive Public School wished not to be named out of fear her opinion would anger other residents. She explains the dangers for children in the winter without sidewalks.
“I think [we] need them, you can imagine snow banks and two cars coming either way when children are walking home,” she said.
Some residents pride the side street for its rural-country feel while others detest it for lacking sidewalks. Since the appeal, Ontario’s environment ministry must now assess the project and decide whether to allow the construction or demand the city come up with another plan.
Our proposal is to put a sidewalk or a walkway in and not have any more impact on the environmental aspect of the street
— Coun. Gary Crawford
Crawford says Chine Drive is in need of renovation apart from the sidewalk issue.
“We have to reconstruct the road regardless, it’s in such deterioration. I think that all of the residents are in agreement on that,” he said.
He says many residents are being misled in what is intended to be done. He insists the city plans to put in elevated walkways without causing any serious environmental harm.
“One of the concerns that residents are saying that is a little misleading is that if we put a sidewalk in we’re going to be removing 40 or 50 trees, well that’s actually not true,” he said.
A total of 22 small trees must be removed in order to rebuild the road. He says no more than that will be removed with the construction of the elevated walkways.
“Our proposal is to put a sidewalk or a walkway in and not have any more impact on the environmental aspect of the street,” he said. “We’re working with residents to ensure we have that country feel, and be very environmentally sensitive to all their needs.”
Crawford says he agrees with residents and their wishes to maintain the rural-looking side street, but there are other important aspects to take into consideration.
“There’s a very busy school at the end of the street and there are kids that need to have the ability to walk safely to and from school,” he said.
Until Ontario’s environment ministry comes up with a decision, plans to put in sidewalks cannot be seen through. Compromise is hoped to fulfill the needs of all residents on Chine Drive.