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REPORTING · 11th July 2013
Walter McFarlane
Kitimat Council and the Kitimat Heritage Committee examined the walkway plan on Monday, June 27th at a Committee of the Whole Meeting. Council toured several walkways which were selected in advance by the group. The areas included Kechika Street, Osprey and the Gander Crescent which have been targeted for Decommissioning in the past.

The meeting began with an introduction to the walkways by District Engineer Tim Gleig who explained decommissioning a walkway took a lot of effort.

“They are all built in 10’ right ways, they are 6’ wide and on each side, in many cases, they have a half round pipe… or did… for drainage. Over time, with abutting property, trees, etc., they become pretty unmanageable, difficult to maintain. If we’re looking at removing any, we poll all the neighbourhood, in particular, the abutting properties. Often, and the only one’s we’ve changed so far are the ones where drainage problems in the area where you can’t really rectify leaving the walkway there or those who have lot of security issues including theft from the back yard,” said Gleig.

He expressed the original concept behind Kitimat is that everyone would be walking to visit each other. The front doors on the older houses are at the back of the house, not facing the road.

He expressed there were two sidewalks which were requested for the tour but cut. The Downtown Core, which is on this year’s replacement list and the viewpoint, which had a study done 7 years ago but has not returned.

Walter Thorn from the Heritage Committee thanked Gleig for the background. “The Heritage Committee is quite concerned about maintaining as much as possible of the original intent of the walkway system which is a good model for good reasons and something to be proud of in Kitimat,” said Thorn.

He pointed out the Official Community Plan states an update is due at the end of 5 years which is this year. The plan puts walkway which goes by the Viewpoint as a priority. Thorn wanted to know where it was now as there reference or update.

He was told the 5 year walkway plan is maintenance and decommissioning. New walkways, such as which will connect Haisla to the Chamber of Commerce or one which is going around the perimeter of the Kildala Neighbourhood have not been approved by Council. No one has brought forward the lack of sidewalk along the view point.

Thorn stated there was a plan to put a sidewalk along the viewpoint according to the Official Community Plan. However, Gleig told Thorn he was not the one who put it in there. Thorn stated putting a walkway there would benefit the community. He expressed he has heard how good the walkway system is in a nearby community.

“I’ve heard comments about how good the walkway system is in a nearby community. I said: ‘If you only knew, ours is much better but you don’t see it,’” said Thorn. “The Crowning of our sidewalk system would be to connect the existing Haisla Hill one somehow with one that would go along Coughlin Park on either side, preferably on the water side. Again, there are problems and it’s been mentioned before about crosswalks and that kind of think, again, we feel as a group that is still in keeping with the original walkway intent and system to enhance the system, to include that as a major source of addition that would complement the old system as our infrastructure got bigger.”

Gleig stated their operations is mostly maintenance and elimination of hazards. He stated because walkways run through parks and backs of houses, they have to consider drainage as well. He added Council has increased the maintenance funds over the last ten years.

There was a question on the grass maintenance for the sidewalks and how some appear to be maintained while others do not. The response is they are done 1-2 times a year with weed eaters due to the amount of manpower it takes. They also do the back allies where there are no sidewalks.

Councillor Rob Goffinet asked if they weed whack sidewalks before weed whack vacant back allies. He was told the youth work in order, starting in the ‘P Section’ of town and down Nalabila in a methodical direction.

Goffinet pointed out that when money is an issue, it is difficult to build brand new stuff while the old stuff is degrading. Councillor Corinne Scott stated they need to start reviewing the Official Community Plan during budget time to see what they can afford.

Councillor Edwin Empinado stated they should maintain and preserve the sidewalks rather than decommission. “We know that there would be was to preserve the four feet or five feet. We would be discussing that and I would like to put that on the table with Council and the District,” said Empinado.

Council went out on a tour of the walkways.

On Kechika, the tour went down the pathway in the middle of the block behind several houses. The sidewalk was overgrown in many places and really was nothing more than gravel which was covered with oil.

On Osprey, the sidewalk was overgrown with the home owner’s hedges. The District does not wish to cut the hedges back because the home owners will win in court for the violation of their plants which are encroaching on District Property. We were told by the District the people on Osprey consider the encroaching plants as a form of home security, as they prevent members of the public from using the walkway.

The Council was shown how several houses have drainage problems because of the green space.

The purpose of going to the Viewpoint was to show the lack of sidewalk along Haisla Boulevard from the Fire Hall to the Village Road.

Gander / Gannet had been previously slated for removal due to drainage concerns. Last year, it was renovated by John Allsop. We were told the sidewalk had been left unattended to show how fast the weeds on the side of the sidewalk would grow.
Walkways and Viewpoint
Comment by estannus on 12th July 2013
The walkway and possibleexpanded park has come up several times during Advisory Planning Meetings of which I was part of. It was also suggested as a possible legacy agreement with PTI.

I am very disappointed that it has not progressed at all. The viewpoint is Kitimat's crown and glory in my opinion and should be expanded. It is also not safe to walk/run along the highway particularly in winter.

A nice crisp walk amongst the rv's
Comment by Virginia on 11th July 2013
A nice walk along back yards filled with rv's. and the viewpoint sidewalk. All along haisla blvd are back yards. Nice scenic drive into town. Like a trailir ourt if the bylaw is passed
Walkways in Kitimat
Comment by CEM on 11th July 2013
I have enjoyed the walkways in Kitimat but can honestly say I don't feel safe walking there. Some areas are very isolated, fences falling over, boards missing, sidewalks in need of repair, just plain ugly ! I miss the sidewalks at the front of houses. If I had a house in Kitimat I would not want a walkway at the back of my privacy !