Representatives from Dysart’s communities in action committee told council Nov. 23 the municipality needs to do a better job of establishing, and maintaining, a pedestrian system for residents walking in the downtown.
Sue Shikaze and Kate Hall presented on the state of sidewalks along Maple Avenue, saying they are not up to par with provincial safety standards. They took particular exception to conditions on the north side, just after the bend in front of the new Gardens of Haliburton retirement facility.
Only one side of Maple Avenue has a functional sidewalk that far out – leaving elderly residents walking along the side of the road, or crossing unsafely. When the Gardens was first proposed, Shikaze said the committee submitted several recommendations for improvements in the area.
“Now, two years later, with the Gardens fully operational, there has still been no improvements to the walking infrastructure,” Shikaze said. “This all leads to the question, what is someone who is a walker to do? There is no option for someone who wants to walk from the Gardens safely into town.”
She suggested council consider installing a sidewalk on the north side of Maple Avenue, in front of the Gardens, to connect to an existing sidewalk by Victoria Street, where a crosswalk would be installed. Shikaze also recommended designating Maple Avenue a community safety zone, which would lower the speed limit and result in higher fines for speeders, as well as implementing several other “traffic calming” measures, such as signs and pavement markings.
The committee walked Maple Avenue in September with Mayor Andrea Roberts, councillors John Smith and Larry Clarke and CAO Tamara Wilbee. Shikaze said participants admitted the walk “wasn’t overly pleasant” due to the high rate, and speed, of traffic.
It’s worse for the seniors who reside at the Gardens. Shikaze told a story of a 97-yearold man who goes for a walk early every morning as a way of getting some exercise and there is concern about him navigating snowbanks in winter.
She also referenced concerns with the safety of the York Street pedestrian crosswalk, disrepair of the fencing along the Drag River trail, and the condition of the existing pavement along some parts of Maple Avenue, crumbling in some areas and requiring extensive weeding in others.
She said the community has an excellent track record rectifying issues, such as the transformation along Highland and York streets. Now, there’s an “urgent need” to do the same to Maple Avenue.
“Our residents have a right to walk safely from their homes to services and amenities,” Shikaze said.
Roberts admitted the municipality had work to do. Council will discuss upgrading Maple Avenue during its 2022 budget deliberations set to begin Dec. 10.
Wallings Road development
A delegation representing a group of Halbiem Crescent residents expressed their opposition to a proposed 48-unit affordable housing development slated for nearby Wallings Road.
Tim Negus, president of the Haliburton By the Lake (HBTL) property owners’ association, and Derrell Stamp said they’re worried about the impact the potential Places for People project could have on their neighbourhood.
The group’s chief concern surrounds the possibility of a go-between road being built from Wallings Road to Halbiem Crescent, as touted by some council members and representatives from Places for People. That idea stems from concerns the project could be shelved unless alternate routes out of Wallings Road are identified. The County of Haliburton is worried the intersection at Wallings Road and County Road 21 won’t be able to handle the additional traffic flow.
Negus said Roberts told him in 2020 that Halbiem Crescent was not being considered as a potential thoroughfare for Wallings Road, so was surprised to learn the option is on the table.
He noted 94 per cent of residents along Halbiem “strongly opposed” any road way coming into the subdivision from Wallings Road. They’re worried about more traffic without proper infrastructure. Another concern is spillover parking with 63 spaces for 48 units.
Ward 4 Coun. John Smith chalked up many of the group’s concerns to NIMBYism, saying he hears the same thing every time a development is proposed. “There’s no greater, more urgent need in our community than additional housing. It seems every week I pick up a paper there’s a group saying ‘well, you can’t build housing in my neighbourhood.’ We’ve got to build it somewhere,” Smith said.
No decision has been made over the Wallings Road proposal, and the County, Dysart and Places for People are still talking. “We do intend to keep this project going forward, to keep you informed, and keep having these conversations,” Roberts said.