Grey Highlands council strolls into sidewalk scrutiny

·2 min read

The Municipality of Grey Highlands may be walking toward a formal strategy for its network of sidewalks.

At its meeting on Sept. 7, council considered a sidewalk resolution from Coun. Dane Nielsen. The brief proposed resolution from Nielsen focused on increasing the number of sidewalks in the community.

Nielsen said he introduced the resolution to have a discussion on the issue with an eye toward crafting more specific wording.

Nielsen eventually withdrew the resolution after a council discussion on the matter. He said he has heard concerns from residents about the state of sidewalks in some parts of the community and the lack of sidewalks in other areas. His resolution asked staff to add a line to the 2023 budget to add funds, which would become an annual amount, to increase/improve sidewalks.

“Over the course of many years the municipality will increase its inventory of sidewalks,” said Nielsen.

The resolution generated plenty of discussion around the council table.

“I admire where Coun. Nielsen is trying to go with it, perhaps it needs a bit of tweaking,” said Coun. Danielle Valliquette. “The first step is to figure out what we have and the next step is to figure out what we’d like to fix.”

Council struggled with moving forward with Nielsen’s resolution as the municipality lacks full information about its current network of sidewalks.

During the discussion, Nielsen noted that council recently supported the development of a Pedestrian Safety Study and he suggested through that process sidewalks could be examined.

“We are missing parts of the puzzle,” said Nielsen.

Director of Transportation and Public Spaces Chris Cornfield said the municipality could look at an “overarching” plan for sidewalks. Cornfield said the Grey Highlands Road Management Plan looked at sidewalks and made recommendations to remove some sidewalks that had deteriorated and were becoming safety issues. He said sidewalks are required in new developments, but at this time there is no overall strategy or protocol for where a new sidewalk would be installed.

“Right now we’re just looking after our existing (sidewalks). We have a budgeted amount to upgrade those existing (sidewalks) as needed,” said Cornfield and said through the Pedestrian Safety Study and an update to the Road Management Study staff could examine a protocol and scope for what is needed to install a new sidewalk.

Chris Fell, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter,