• John Jantak

Pedestrian safety concerns prompts resident to ask for sidewalk in Ste. Anne’s north sector


PHOTO BY JOHN JANTAK

Ste. Anne de Bellevue resident Tom Broad said pedestrian safety and security should be the city’s main priority for building a much needed sidewalk on Meloche Street in the north sector.

Citing safety concerns for pedestrians, Ste. Anne de Bellevue resident Tom Broad asked city council to consider building a much needed sidewalk on Meloche Street in the north sector of the city on Monday, May 11. The issue was raised by Broad during question period, who said that with the large volume of vehicles that use the street to travel into and out of the district each day, the lack of a sidewalk poses a serious safety threat to pedestrians. Broad said it’s the students that attend John Abbott College who are at greatest risk because they have to walk along Meloche to the bus stop on Chemin Ste. Marie since the bus doesn’t travel along Meloche.

While the problem isn’t as bad during spring into fall, Broad said the situation in winter is especially treacherous for anyone who has to walk along Meloche because of the large mounds of snow on each side of the street. He added that with the long nights, pedestrians are not easily visible to motorists and it could be only a matter of time before a pedestrian is accidentally struck by a car. He criticized council for apparently focusing on non-essential projects such as the city’s $20,000 image rebranding initiative while ignoring a serious safety and security issue.

“The last time we spoke about the dangers of walking along the Meloche, the city said there wasn’t money available to build a sidewalk,” said Broad. “But there seems to be a lot of non-essential projects that are taking priority over a security issue for the people. “Try walking on that street with all the cars. We should all do it when there’s snow banks and it gets dark at four o’clock, yet our kids have to walk along this street every day,” Broad added. Hawa replied that the town always puts the security of its citizens first.

“Security is always a priority for this council in whatever way we can to ensure our citizens are safe. It is always our number one priority,” said Hawa. But when asked whether the city would proceed with a project to build a sidewalk on Meloche, Hawa was noncommittal. “I said security is a priority but we also have to be realistic about what we can afford and what we can’t afford. What is non-essential to one person might be essential so someone else,” she said. This prompted Brand to ask the 30 citizens at the council meeting, “Is the safety of our children walking on Meloche a priority?”

Many residents replied, “Yes.” Hawa interjected, “Is the survival our village and the commercial aspect of our village a priority? These are some of the trade-offs that we’ll have to make. I understand what you’re saying. There are decisions that we have to make that unfortunately are not always easy to make. I’m not an engineer, but just seeing what some of these things cost, you’re talking millions and millions of dollars.”

District 2 Councillor Ryan Young then stated that residents in the northern district knew there were no sidewalks when they purchased their houses, which was met with derision from several citizens. Broad asked whether Young was even aware what residents, especially the children, had to endure without the sidewalks and invited the council to walk down the street in the morning and afternoon during rush hour to see what it was like for pedestrians. “I would never live in a neighbourhood that doesn’t have sidewalks because I don’t think it’s safe not to have sidewalks,” said Young. Hawa later told Your Local Journal that Broad had a point in bringing up the safety issue on Meloche.

“He’s right,” said Hawa. “It would be great if we could have sidewalks everywhere but they’re very expensive. They cost a lot of money. It’s not a question of security, which is very important. There’s a financial reality. “As we move ahead, our new urban plan will insist that when promoters are going to build anything, they’re also going to have to build sidewalks,” Hawa added.

“When you have a development that doesn’t have sidewalks, it’s usually the promoter that wants to increase their profit margin. We’re going to have to be very vigilant with this.”

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