Coventry TransportationCoventry Transportation
The Weather Network
May. 17, 2021 | Monday
Editorials and Opinions
Letter: Is new sidewalk essential or 'nice to have'?

Dear editor:

Last week, I received a letter from the town informing me it will be building a sidewalk outside my house. Then a technician appeared and started to mark out the proposed sidewalk. I was a little surprised by the lack of forewarning.

Then I thought about the proposed project and realized that this stretch of sidewalk is not essential. It will go along Anne Street from Simcoe to Mississagua. Alternative sidewalks already exist for those people who either prefer to walk on sidewalks or have some other need to do so.

Essentially the new feature falls under the ‘"nice to have" category and probably meets some idealized image of how suburbs should look, and hence it got approved.

What has prompted me to write this letter to the editor was the realization that our town council is blindly following business as usual while the world at large is changing all around us. This was a disappointing conclusion. I had hoped the wider issues of these early 2000s might have penetrated the planning activities of our town and government bodies in general. Sadly, I was far too optimistic.

In today’s world, I had expected our leadership and town employees to look at all projects and expenditures and ask whether they are essential, as opposed to "nice to have." This country, province and town are all spending huge sums to combat an epidemic. How long that may last, no one knows.

So purely as a precautionary tightening-of-the-belt activity, I would expect the town to rein in spending on "nice to have" projects. How many there are around our town I’m not sure but I wouldn’t be surprised if there are a number. Money saved would help weather the financial burdens that we will all have to bear once we do rise above the pandemic.

Then I asked myself a simple question. Has the town done anything to assess the environmental impacts of its plans and projects? For instance, this short piece of non-essential sidewalk will pump about 10 tons of CO2 into our atmosphere.

That’s about what two cars would contribute to the atmosphere over an entire year. Some might say "so what," but unless we all start to at least attempt to address unnecessary emissions we will never bring down our CO2 emissions. Then our children/grandchildren will have to struggle in a whole new world. Plus, I am sure this is not the only unnecessary project that is scheduled in NOTL.

In addition, the sand used in the concrete for the sidewalk is rapidly becoming a scarcer resource with associated environmental damages due to its extraction. Should we be using it for sidewalks that are not essential?

Don’t misunderstand me. If the sidewalk was the access to a school or shops, etc., then I agree we should be building it. But apparently the actual need for the sidewalk appears not to have been carefully assessed prior to the approval of the project.

My hope is that the town will take a bit of time to consider its actions in a wider manner than just following some abstract rule book for municipal projects.


Richard West