Council looks at pedestrian access around town

At a finance committee meeting late last month, Town Council decided to make pedestrian access a priority.

At a finance committee meeting late last month, Town Council decided to make “connectivity” a priority, and dedicated some funding to the assessment and construction of pedestrian routes.

Pedestrian access around town, be it trails or town sidewalks, was identified as a priority by the community’s Age Friendly Plan, and at the finance meeting the operations department brought forward some of the areas that were in the most dire need.

Committee agreed to dedicate money towards feasibility work for a new sidewalk on 8th Avenue between the Pedestrian Bridge and 9th Street, as well as an assessment of the Rotary trails behind Alexander Park Elementary School, that lead up to the ball diamonds.

They also voted to pave the trail exit from the Pedestrian Bridge to 8th Avenue, and accelerate by one year the construction plans for new sidewalks at Alexander Park. These decisions were brought before council and approved at their June 23 meeting.

Wherever possible these projects will be funded by Gas Tax money, a grant the municipality receives from the federal government every year which amounts to about $200,000 annually. If any of these priorities do not fit the criteria required to use Gas Tax dollars, they will be funded from the general operations budget. However any money taken from that budget will be offset by transfers from Gas Tax revenue.

During the same discussion council examined several other areas where lack of connectivity has been identified.

In other words, areas where the sidewalks just end. One example was 9th Street South between the College of the Rockies building and the Seniors Centre, which have a  joined parking lot.

There is a sidewalk on the other side of the street, in front of the Mount 7 Rec Plex, but nothing along the parking lot in between the two buildings.

Past councils had made the decision that maintaining existing infrastructure should take priority over building new infrastructure, therefore Coun. Caleb Moss was uncomfortable engaging in a discussion about new sidewalks while many of the existing ones are in need of repair.

“Can we really afford to create new things?” he asked.

Newly elected Coun. Bruce Fairly disagreed, and said he didn’t want his “hands to be tied” by discussions and decisions made by past councils.

“Our priority list should be fluid as new information comes to light,” he said.