Edmonton needs to step up on sidewalk repairs, says report

Edmonton needs to step up on sidewalk repairs, says report

The City of Edmonton needs to step up its game when it comes to replacing temporary asphalt sidewalks with concrete,  especially where asphalt creates safety issues, says Coun. Ben Henderson.

A new report recommending changes to the city's policy on sidewalk renewal will go before the urban planning committee April 5. 

The report focuses specifically on the city's use of asphalt to patch uneven areas in concrete sidewalks.

"It's never as good as concrete," Henderson said Friday. "They (sidewalks) have got to be safe to use."

Sidewalks should be accessible to everyone, including those with mobility issues, Henderson said.

The report recommends:

- upgrading the asphalt to concrete sooner. When asphalt patches are used because of seasonal necessity, the upgrade to concrete should be done within six months of the start of construction season, weather permitting. 

- using asphalt patching only if reconstruction of the sidewalk is planned within two years

'It's never free'

"I've heard from some people who've expressed a bit of frustration (with) the amount of time it takes to go back from asphalt to concrete, " said Coun. Andrew Knack. 

People with mobility issues have raised concerns regarding these asphalt patches because of water pooling and creating icy patches, Knack added.

"It can become a lot more challenging to actually get to where you need to go," he said.

The city's current policy does not contain a timeline for concrete repairs. The report said it can sometimes take years for asphalt-patched sidewalks to be replaced with concrete.

There are approximately 5,200 kilometres of sidewalks in Edmonton, the report said.

If the city makes this change in policy, it will cost between $800,00 and $1.1 million, in addition to the current $5-million annual sidewalk maintenance budget, according to the report.

"It's never free, so I'd like to know where the money's coming from," said Coun. Mike Nickel.

The additional cost could be covered within the existing departmental budget, the report said.