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REPORTING · 31st August 2012
Walter McFarlane
The Decommissioning of Sidewalks comes before Council at least once a year. There are several sidewalks on the chopping block for one reason or another. Sometimes, it is the Kitimat Heritage Committee which talks to Council about sidewalks, other times, a sidewalk is ready to be taken out and it requires approval.

Monday, August 20th was not one of those times.

John Allsop, an individual who came to Kitimat from the Okanogan took it upon himself to give some tender loving care to one of the sidewalks outside his home. This sidewalk, located between Gander and Gannet Street was scheduled for decommissioning. He asked Council to reconsider.

“I moved into number 28, Gander Crescent and very soon, got out to the back of the garden. There is… there was what you might call a footpath there. But, to tell you the truth, there wasn’t very much of it,” said Allsop.

He found the condition of the path was “Unspeakably deplorable.” He stated Kitimat was uniquely designed with foot paths instead of roads.

“The path ways are absolutely incredibly beautiful I hear, because you can walk to town, you can take your child in a pram anywhere in town without going on the road,” said Allsop.

Normally, the sidewalk would be 5 feet wide, about 180 metres in length, but it was well hidden under tall grass. Branches from hedges and trees hung over it. Allsop went down to the District Offices and told them he was going to work with a chainsaw.

He did not want Kitimat to be liable when someone pokes their eyes out on one of the hazards there. He expressed it was still a public right-away, even though it was going to be decommissioned.

When he was done with the Chainsaw, he began to clear away the grass from the sidewalk and found the sod was 2-3 inches thick. It had not been done in a very long time.

He also found there was a planned drainage half moon concrete trough running along both sides of the sidewalk. However, it had been buried under dirt.

“There have been reports of flooding there. I would suggest that the flooding [has been caused] by lack of maintenance. Where can the water go?”

The work took a month and he left 100 feet so that people can see the difference. Only one City Councillor came by prior to the meeting to look at it. Councillor Edwin Empinado.

Allsop asked Council if it would be more cost effective to remove the sidewalk or simply maintain it. He estimated the maintenance has not been done for 15 years.

“I’m asking you tonight to reconsider this crazy proposal of removal of the pathways and consider a bit of maintenance because people have been going up and down there with prams, with children, because they haven’t been able to do it for ten years. It is a plus to your community to maintain this. It is a beautiful pathway,” said Allsop.

He also thanked the District for finally removing the drying clippings from the pathway after they have been there for a month.

Allsop also stated Council was fixing the walkways in the higher class areas of Kitimat but were not maintaining them in the areas which boarder on social housing. He asked them to take another look.

Councillor Mario Feldhoff wanted to know whether it was the cost of removing the sidewalk or having the sidewalk in the neighbourhood as the point of the presentation. Allsop replied with a question: “Why are pathways created for?”

“[It is a] 5X5 concrete lane there with divisions in between them. Some of the 5X5’s are incredibly good condition,” said Allsop. “The quality of that concrete is way in excess of some of the ones I’ve seen around town that I walked around and they are still, properly maintained.”

Empinado commented he was uncertain as to the intention. The Council received information from administration concerning it’s removal and they made the decision without first seeing it. This is why he wanted to look at it first hand. He wished to present slides of the photos of the Sidewalk. He was told it was not the time.

Councillor Rob Goffinet stated there was a Heritage Committee who advocate for sidewalks. He stated the report told them this sidewalk was not used and gave drainage problems to people in the lower part of the crescent. Goffinet wanted to know if he was taking down trees and what the problem with the sidewalk was.

Allsop stated the engineering of the sidewalk was beautiful and there are trenches for drainage on the left and right. However, he was uncertain if the drainage was functioning due to the lack of maintenance. The trees were planted for hedges.

He asked Council to send around another questionnaire. They will probably find a complete reversal of the ones which were sent out three years ago.

Feldhoff stated 75% of the people polled were in favour of removing the sidewalk, now they might find a changed opinion. He wanted to know if the drainage issue would be solved by fixing the sidewalk.

Allsop replied an outstanding engineer worked on the town and he must have thought about this. The District has to maintain it. He was willing to put some effort into keeping the pathway open.

Councillor Corrine Scott thanked Allsop for the presentation and clarified there was an un-cleared area so people could see the difference.

Goffinet made a motion to Council visit the site and see the condition. Goffinet stated the decommissioning was not set until 2013 so the Council has plenty of time to look into the decommissioning.

Eminado showed his slides of the sidewalk and the difference between the cleared and the un-cleared portions. Feldhoff thanked Allsop for the job he did and stated he would like to meet with engineering as quickly as possible.

Empinado stated the cleaning of the sidewalk led to neighbours cleaning up their back yards.

Mayor Joanne Monaghan wanted to know from administration if there were problems with people having water in basements. She was told they were not sure but there was drainage problems with the survey was done.

Administration also stated they first heard of Allsop’s cleaning of the sidewalks when a call came from someone who was upset because someone was cutting trees the on the callers private property. The District was aware of what he was doing though.

Councillor Corrine Scott asked for an amendment to survey the people in the area again now the work has been done. Goffinet agreed because it would inform their discussion.

The first motion, to look into the sidewalks was called and carried.

Feldhoff made another motion to get a report back from administration on what it would take to complete the cleaning this year. Goffinet suggested they could get their report back from staff on the spot. This motion was called and carried as well.
Compare the sidewalk now (lower) to how it used to be (top)
Compare the sidewalk now (lower) to how it used to be (top)
The drainage runs along the sidewalk.
The drainage runs along the sidewalk.
That's funny
Comment by CC on 2nd November 2012
And.... I'll bet I was the sister.
Ha, ha good memories... for me. Sorry 'bout that.
concussion
Comment by roguemc on 27th September 2012
Right where this sidewalk met up with the old A frame log cabin play fort, I got tossed from the back of my sisters three speed schwinn on dead mans curve. I was out like a light and got carried home by our neighbors daughter. Alot of memories growing up in Kitimat, most of them good. Thanks for digging up my past John.
Amazing
Comment by CC on 2nd September 2012
Way to go John Allsop. This is just amazing what you did. I grew up in Kitimat and it was a network of beautiful, beautiful sidewalks. I have incredible memories of walking and riding my bike and running around with my childhood friends during the non snow months and in the winter months my Mom would pull us on a sled. It is magical to walk the sidewalks of Kitimat during any season but being pulled in a silent world while the snow falls - well what I am saying is when I visit Kitimat now I still enjoy the sidewalks. I cannot believe that a city would allow the sidewalks to come to this condition, I am shocked. If you move to the big city you will realize what you don't have anymore and to think that a city would be decommisioning sidewalks? What about active health and mobility. I say this citizen deserves a hearty pat on the back for his hard work and inspiring others to clean up their backyards.
Why has maintenance stopped?
Comment by Apocalypse Now on 1st September 2012
Probably because we have to dole out another 125 grand a year to hire someone to do the economic development officers job and give 300 grand severance packages to ex municipal managers and not know why, because apparently its a secret.
remove or maintain
Comment by LINDA HALYK on 31st August 2012
Maintenance on these walk ways should be the priority not their destruction.

Would it not make sense to keep these walkways upgraded, as Kitimat wants to be a retirement village?

Why has regular maintenance stopped on Kitimat's walkways, that is the question??
past resident
Comment by steve head on 31st August 2012
very worthy projectr by a good citizen. I remember when these walkways were new and we all used them. I guess people drive more these days.