Speedier sidewalk repair crucial to community walkability, says city councillor

·2 min read
Sidewalks get redone in Old Strathcona as part of neighbourhood renewal project in Edmonton.  (Natasha Riebe/CBC - image credit)
Sidewalks get redone in Old Strathcona as part of neighbourhood renewal project in Edmonton. (Natasha Riebe/CBC - image credit)

It can take more than four months for the city to fix a trip hazard or deficiency on an Edmonton sidewalk, a new report shows. One city councillor says that needs to change.

The city aims to repair cracks, holes, or slants within two months of it being investigated, the report says.

In 2020, crews repaired 65 per cent of sidewalk issues in less than two months, but took more than four months for 25 per cent of the issues.

The remaining 10 per cent were fixed within two to four months.

Coun. Andrew Knack requested the information in early spring after documenting and reporting cracks, holes and trip hazards around his west-end ward to the city's 311 app.

He noticed two months later, some were not addressed.

"That to me is too long of a time to go out and take to even just verify if something is an issue."

Knack, the councillor for Ward Nagota Isga, said fixing the sidewalks in a timely way is crucial for seniors and people with accessibility challenges.

"This is good for seniors, this is good for people with mobility challenges, this is good for parents with strollers — just truly anyone would benefit from having a properly maintained sidewalk."

Priority guide

The city report says while the time to repair target, or TTR, is 60 days, it depends on several factors.

"The target TTR for a sidewalk depends on the type of repair needed and is influenced by a variety of factors such as resource availability and weather conditions," the report states.

City of Edmonton
City of Edmonton

As the condition of the sidewalk gets worse, and the risk to public safety goes up, the city report says.

Knack plans to ask about the city's work on a new sidewalk strategy at a community and public services committee meeting.

"My hope is that we revamp this, create a proper life cycle maintenance strategy like we have on almost every other piece of infrastructure — we do it for our roads, now we do it for our buildings," he said. "Let's make sure we have that broken out for our sidewalks."

The budget for sidewalk maintenance in 2021 is $4.3 million, after a decrease in 2020 due to pandemic concerns.

The budget has remained steady since 2012, when it was $4.2 million while at the same time, the sidewalk inventory has increased 16 per cent since then.

So it might be time to reinvest, Knack argues.

Although he and other councillors are aiming for a zero property tax increase in 2022, it might be a different story going into the next four-year capital budget cycle from 2023 to 2026.

"I think if we're going to see some type of increases over the next four years, we should be directing those to some of this critical maintenance and infrastructure and services that people would expect," he said.

@natashariebe

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