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Moncton proposes sidewalk removal policy in bid to cut costs

Thursday, April 25th 2019, 4:20 pm - Councillors called for public input, more details before moving ahead.

CBC city of moncton

A map showing how a proposed policy would affect sidewalks in the city's west end, bordered by St. George Boulevard at the top and Vaughan Harvey Boulevard on the right. Sidewalks marked in red would be removed, while those in white and yellow would remain. Sidewalk would be added in areas marked in green. (City of Moncton)

Richard said paying for upkeep, keeping the tax rate steady and still providing good service to residents means re-examining the city's approach.

He said the ratio of sidewalks to kilometres of street is double that of cities like Fredericton or Halifax.

René Lagacé, a project engineer with the city who presented examples of the policy to councillors, said the changes would be implemented on streets with road work like repaving. He said sections could also be removed if maintenance becomes too costly.

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The changes could take decades to implement, Richard said.

In the west end, a map shown to councillors indicates 9.3 kilometres of sidewalk would be removed, 6.7 kilometres kept and 58 metres added.

Around the Moncton Hospital, 11.7 kilometres of sidewalk would be removed, 28.5 kilometres kept and 624 metres added.

Coun. Blair Lawrence voiced support for the idea, but called for public input. He said deteriorating sidewalks aren't helpful.

"They're so beaten up, for seniors, they're dangerous," Lawrence said in French.

Lagacé resisted the idea of public consultation, saying objections from one person along a street could threaten implementation of the plan.

"If we go down that path, I think there's going to be a lot of resistance to it, so I don't think the vision will be achieved," Lagacé said, adding the policy has to be implemented en masse to achieve the savings envisioned.

CBC Moncton 2

A map showing how the policy would reduce sidewalks around the Moncton Hospital, shown on the right. Sidewalks marked in red would be removed. (City of Moncton)

The comparative costs of building city streets with and without sidewalks were not immediately available.

But councillors called for consultation.

"This is a major, major decision made by council," Coun. Brian Hicks said. "Look, the taxpayers are the ones who pay the bills that run this city."

The decision to keep or remove a sidewalk would be based on a street's classification. Major arterial roads like Mountain Road would have sidewalks on both sides, while minor streets wouldn't have any sidewalks.

Exceptions would apply near schools and hospitals.

The preference would be to keep sidewalks on the north or east side of a street, as they would get more sunlight in the winter, which could help reduce maintenance costs.

Once sidewalks are removed, the space would be sodded and driveways extended.

This article was written for the CBC by Shane Magee.

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