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REPORTING · 7th January 2013
Walter McFarlane
This article is a few weeks behind its deadline because of its relationship to the 2012 budget meetings. During the meetings, it was pointed out the removal was still funded and this led to a discussion on what steps would follow. Due to the more pressing budget issues, this article was delayed until today, Monday January 7th. The final article from the Marathon Budget Presentations from December will follow tomorrow
- Walter

The Gander Gannet Walkway, which was brought up last summer by John Allsop was an item of discussion at the Kitimat City Council Budget Meetings on December 11th and 12th, as well as the Regular Meeting of Council on Monday, December 3rd.

On December 3rd, Allsop returned to Council, backed up by Erika Prett from the Kitimat Heritage Group.

“If you had taken 101 photographs like this, all would have indicated the same information,” said Allsop.

Allsop told Council had worked on the walkway 5 hours a day for about 5 weeks. It is 180 metres, it contains 114 concrete sections 5’ in length. The condition of the concrete is between 87% and 100% good. 27 were not badly cracked. The sidewalk was installed in 1957.

“That’s amazing. I would say quality work and incredible. The public foot path was constructed in 1957. The use of the pathway since it was cleared has been increasing steadily. There have been seniors going up and down it, couples, children, prams, bicycles, etc…”

He told the Council there was one big drain in the property and it has not been maintained for ten years. He expressed the damage was done to the houses was due to the drains being blocked. There was a lot of material down there which was removed by a public employee. The sidewalk was built as a curve. Allsop believed this made it unique to Kitimat.

Allsop stated money had been put aside to remove the walkway. He expressed in the times of constraint, it would not be prudent to spend money to remove a walkway which was in good condition.

He added Kitimat was planned as a green town and the safety factor of a walkway system is both obvious and proven before asking Council to maintain the walkway for future generations.

There were no questions. Councillor Mario Feldhoff thanked him for his hard work.

Prett got up on behalf of the Kitimat Heritage Group.

“The Heritage Group Salute John Allsop for his fine work. You have clearly demonstrated what a dedicated citizen can do, thank you,” said Prett.

She expressed the Kitimat Heritage Group has been petitioning Council to maintain the greenbelt walkways. She expressed Allsop had preserved a unique part of Kitimat. She asked for the walkway to receive heritage status and be preserved.

There were no questions.

The removal of the Gander Walkway came up in the Budget discussion on Tuesday December 11th. It had been moved off of the supplementary into a list of canceled projects. The motion was an outstanding one after the concerns came from a new to Kitimat Resident who was living adjacent to it.

Municipal Engineer Tim Gleig stated the walkway was put in and the people who lived in the neighbourhood allowed their trees to grow up around it. The roots from those trees damaged the drainage system from the walkway.

“When we surveyed the area the last time,” said Gleig, “it was to remove it. For drainage, for tripping hazards, for security. That was the basis for it being removed. If it wasn’t for our shortage of a technologist these past couple of years, it would have been gone before this year.”

Gleig explained the walkway was smaller than the ones which they were looking at keeping. In addition, the trees growing along the walkway jammed up the drainage with the roots so the drains did not work anymore causing water to flow into the back yards.

He explained replacing the sidewalk would be expensive and would not do anything to resolve the drainage issue. There are also some encroachments into the sidewalks area because residents have put up retaining walls. Now that is it cleaned up, there has to be some money spent on drainage in the lower end of the sidewalk as some residents are still having drainage issues.

He pointed out though it would still be difficult to get in and maintain, notably because of the overgrown trees have reduced the movement room.

Feldhoff clarified they will not do any major changes without the permission of Council. Gleig said they would have to resurvey the neighbours. He suggested bringing the past survey to Council. They could also have a meeting so the residents could understand what specific problems their neighbours are having.

Acting Mayor Corinne Scott also asked if there were any other sidewalks scheduled for deletion. She said there were two left but they have not been surveyed yet. They were small and vehicles could not get in to do maintenance on them. One sidewalk which was removed had serious drainage problems with every rainfall.

To keep the Gander sidewalk, the District will have to perform duty of care. Remove tripping hazards, take down branches. There will have to be a budget for that.