Sideswiped by sidewalks

Small wonder voters are gobsmacked by occasional bewildering council procedures and decisions.
Frustrated residents on Palmer and Kennedy Avenues have legitimate concerns about two confusing sidewalk decisions made by council.
Faced with protests from Glasgow Street homeowners who opposed new sidewalks outside their homes, councillors voted to scrap a proposed $100,000 pathway despite a city pedestrian charter that recommends sidewalks be included in road upgrades.
Weeks later, reviewing a similar situation on Palmer-Kennedy where a majority of residents rejected new pathways, nine councillors (John Gazzola and Zyg Janecki were absent) voted 5-4 to approve sidewalks.
Then, when angry residents returned to council March 31 asking the issue be appealed before a full council, eight votes were required to authorize debate and reconsideration. Tangled in procedural red tape, the mayor and five councillors voted to reject my motion to reconsider the issue instead of taking a comprehensive second look.
In both cases, residents who have never had sidewalks on one side of their streets argued the proposals would waste taxpayer dollars and mean potential loss of trees, landscaping and, in a few cases, driveway parking spaces.
Kennedy-Palmer residents said they have lived with sidewalks on one side of their quiet streets for 70 years and argued the proposed $36,500 cost of adding pathways would be better spent on stretches of busy streets that have no sidewalks — streets like nearby Mill or Ottawa Street South.
While I support the overall intent to create pedestrian walkways that improve accessibility whenever possible, in this case I agree with Palmer-Kennedy residents. For that reason, I am now trying to arrange a meeting between the Ward 9 homeowners and city staff to try to address some of their concerns as the road and sidewalk upgrades go ahead.
Meanwhile, I share their beef about such inconsistent, ad hoc council decisions.

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