WALKERTON – Carol De Rosie and her family are serious about wanting a sidewalk along the full length of Ridout Street. At present, only a small section of the road has sidewalks.
She said her 10-year-old granddaughter has to walk “a considerable distance” without sidewalks. The road has a number of curves and hills, and isn’t wide enough in places to safely accommodate children riding bicycles or walking.
“It’s a younger neighbourhood,” said De Rosie, who pointed out that many families with small children have moved to the area. In addition, there’s a group home, whose residents often walk along Ridout.
During the pandemic, the number of walkers has increased, and that form of exercise remains popular – and potentially dangerous.
“Winter is coming,” said De Rosie. “I worry about that.”
She and her family are clearly not the only people concerned about the sidewalk situation. In a matter of a couple of days, the petition had 205 signatures and continues to grow.
De Rosie said her granddaughter is making the effort to get sidewalks on Ridout a classroom project.
The petition was discussed briefly at the Nov. 9 Brockton council meeting. Coun. Kym Hutcheon asked staff to provide a rough estimate of the cost of putting in sidewalks.
In an earlier interview, Brockton Mayor Chris Peabody had stated the Clancy subdivision will put 210 new homes on that side of Walkerton; about 70 of them have already been constructed. Ridout Street, once a fairly quiet street at the edge of town, has become a busy thoroughfare. With the site of the former Bogdon and Gross Furniture Factory slated for development, the road will become even busier.
A seasonal speed hump on Ridout had little success in slowing down traffic.
The mayor said he’s walked along Ridout Street, and noted that the twists and turns in the road make it a challenge for pedestrians.
“These days, Ridout never would have been built without sidewalks,” he said.
However, adding sidewalks comes with a cost that certainly includes moving hydro poles and could involve sewers and other underground infrastructure.
The “Sign the Petition: Sidewalks on Ridout Street” (www.change.org/RidoutSidewalks) page went live last week.
The petition calls for both sidewalks and traffic control measures.
Brandy Patterson commented on the Facebook page: “Walkerton is growing and Ridout is a major connector road that links existing and new residential areas to parks and trails, provides access to Highway 9 and Bruce Road 2, and connects commercial and retail areas. I’ve had too many close calls with oncoming vehicles swerving around pedestrians, people walking in low light conditions, and not having enough space to walk safely… We need to make our community more walkable and accessible for all ages and abilities.” She went on to say, “No one is saying it will be an easy, cheap or quick fix – it will be an investment and we need a plan.”
Pauline Kerr, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, The Walkerton Herald Times