When we hear the word infrastructure, we most often think of big ticket items like roads, bridges, and pipes in the ground, but there are many types of municipal infrastructure that need to be maintained, including sidewalks.
A number of sidewalks in the urban area of Meaford are scheduled to be removed after council voted in favour of a staff recommendation at their May 8 meeting.
The determination to remove 1,400 metres of sidewalks was based on a number of criteria including condition, the presence of trip hazards, lack of connectivity to other sidewalks, and dimensions that do not conform to the Accessibility for Ontarians With Disabilities Act (AODA). Staff also noted that many of the sidewalks chosen for removal cannot accommodate municipal snow removal equipment in the winter months.
In a staff report presented at their May 8 meeting, council was told that the cost to replace existing sidewalks is roughly $110 per linear metre, and that the cost to remove and replace the sidewalks would cost in excess of $175,000. Removal costs are estimated at just $13,200.
“Removal of the sidewalk sections will be completed by staff with existing equipment. Remediation of the areas affected will use current topsoil from the leaf and yard compost and reclaimed ditching material. The budget includes funds for seed supplies to complete the work. All concrete panels removed will be sent to a local quarry for grinding at no cost. Total internal costs for staff and equipment are estimated at $13,200,” read the report to council.
The report said that all of the sections of sidewalk proposed for removal do not meet current AODA requirements as they are narrower than the required 1.5 metres in width.
“Further, all sections are considered part of the “non-winter maintenance” sidewalk inventory. Most sections are on dead ends or are not continuous along the entire road section and do not provide overall connectivity and, therefore, removal is not contradicting the Official Plan. All of the sections have significant cracking, breaking, missing or lifting panels and would be considered beyond repair. The state of these sections of sidewalk create significant potential liability concerns given the opportunity for trips and falls due to the poor condition,” noted the report. “A significant number of the sections do not comply with the current municipal engineering standards which direct sidewalks on the South or East side of road sections to allow better sun exposure to assist with winter maintenance efforts.”
The pending changes to the provincially mandated minimum maintenance standards will require the Municipality to service all sidewalks within a 48-hour period, so the lack of appropriate width on the sidewalks identified for removal does not provide an ability for the sidewalk snow clearing equipment to perform these operations.
“As well, the additional sidewalk (1,400 meters) would create operational challenges in meeting the 48-hour requirement which may force the Municipality to purchase a second machine and/or hire additional staff for extra shifts,” suggested the report.
One of the sidewalks identified in the report as meriting removal should also be replaced, so that sidewalk will remain in place for the time being.
“The Pearson Street sidewalk (214 metres) should be removed, but permanent removal would conflict with the Official Plan requirements. As such, this section will be left until a capital project is included in a future budget,” suggested the report.
The report notes that the Pearson Street sidewalk would need to be relocated to the other side of the street to comply with municipal engineering standards. To do so would require the installation of storm sewer services at a cost estimated at more than $100,000.
“Given the road is a rural cross-section without curb and gutter there is no need for storm sewer. Staff will include the sidewalk removal and reconstruction on the existing side of the street at an estimated cost of $30,000 in the draft 2018 capital budget recognizing this is a deviation from current standards,” suggested the report.
Other sections of sidewalk on Margaret, Union, Nelson, and Collingwood streets could also be replaced in future as road reconstruction is undertaken.
“At this time, however, the sidewalk should not be replaced given the road is not currently constructed to an urban standard and future works would effectively mean the sidewalk would be demolished given it would not be in the correct location within the road allowance,” read the report.
Council gave initial approval to the proposal at their May 8 meeting, and they are expected to give final approval at their May 29 meeting, after which a letter will be issued to affected property owners to inform them of the upcoming sidewalk removals.
To see photos and locations of the 15 sections of sidewalks to be removed, pick up this week's print edition of the Meaford Indepdendent.