Multiple CK BIAs to see more winter maintenance

Next time there's a winter storm, a number of sidewalks in the downtowns of Blenheim, Tilbury, Wallaceburg, Chatham, and Wheatley will see some extra care.

CK Council voted unanimously to support a motion by Ward 2 Councillor Ryan Doyle that asked for several sidewalks to be added to the list of "Downtown Business Areas" under the Winter Maintenance By-Law which would see them be plowed and salted by the municipality.

"The way the by-law reads, is that Chatham-Kent Public Works plows all the sidewalks in Chatham-Kent," explained Ryan Brown, CK's Director of Public Works. "But in downtown areas, as defined by the maps in the by-law, Public Works plows and salts. In all other areas, the adjacent property owner is to salt the sidewalk."

The sidewalks that have now become the responsibility of the municipality include:

  • Catherine Street, between Talbot Street W and Marlborough Street S, Community of Blenhiem

  • Canal Street between Queen and Lyon, Community of Tilbury

  • Mill Street between Queen and Lyon, Community of Tilbury

  • Dufferin Ave between Lisgar and Bruinsma, Community of Wallaceburg

  • James Street between Wellington and Murray, Community of Wallaceburg

  • William Street S and N, King Street North to Chatham Granite Club, Community of Chatham

  • Colborne Street, William Street N to Legion parking lot, Community of Chatham

  • Wheatley's downtown area be extended from Little Street to the Resource Centre, 108 Talbot Street E

According to Chatham-Kent's General Manager of Infrastructure and Engineering Services Edward Soldo, the add-ons will cost an extra $15,000 per year. If there are no more snow storms for this winter season there will be no extra cost, as the mild weather means the plows and salters have been out less than normal.

Brown said that the smaller cost associated with this motion is because the machines that plow and salt the downtown areas are already going there, the routes are just being extended a little bit.

There were concerns expressed about other businesses and organizations asking for similar services once Doyle's motion passed, as it was explained that the additional costs would soar into the hundreds of thousands.

"If you asked me 'hey, can you go salt in front of this public school?' on the other side of [town], we don't have a machine going out there," Brown said, adding that the costs include the salt itself, fuel, maintenance of equipment, and employees, but in some areas the municipality pays a contractor to take care of the roads and sidewalks. "The costs are different depending on if they're internal employees or if they're contracted."

The other part of Doyle's motion calls for municipality staff to do a comprehensive review of the entire winter sidewalk maintenance program before the next multi-year budget discussion, something Brown agrees with.

"Over the next year or two we will be launching some broader public consultation about this whole level of service in general. It's been about five years since we've talked about it," Brown said. "And that's where we can flesh out, should we just be doing this in downtown areas? Should we be doing it everywhere? Should we be doing it nowhere? I think that will be a more comprehensive list."

Brown said he believes this is a better way of figuring out what areas might need extra attention than bringing motion after motion.

"I think it's a good time to review what we've been doing. Make sure the community's happy with the level of service, but recognize there's a cost to this."

In the meantime, Brown recommends that Chatham-Kent familiarize themselves with the Winter Maintenance By-Law and prepare any feedback they have for administration.

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