This town is not as accessible as it should be.
That is the message delegate Sonya Matthews had to share with the town’s elected officials, during a Tuesday, September 6, committee meeting.
“Mainly, it’s for able-bodied people only. Your sidewalks are a bit wonky for us to move around,” she said. “I have MS, and there are days where I can’t walk. It can be very hard to move my scooter.”
A number of trouble spots dot the town. One crosswalk across South Shore Road doesn’t have a ramp on one side, effectively stranding people who use scooters on the street.
“This town is supposed to be for everybody. I fee discriminated against,” Matthews said.
There are many things the town can do to resolve these issues.
“Some towns have bike lanes; why not a scooter lane?” she asked.
“We try to address these problems as we go,” councillor Tim McGonigle said, adding that to re-do all of the town’s sidewalks in one swoop would be cost prohibitive.
That said, one giant swoop down the town’s stretch of South Shore Road is in the works for 2012, during which time the Ministry of Transportation and Infrastructure plans on re-paving the road from the western and eastern entrances to town.
“We’re coming up on an age where we’ll see more of this,” councillor Bob Day said, of people on scooters.
In addition, Matthews took issue with snow removal during the winter, which isn’t as fast as it should be, she said.
“If these sidewalks aren’t clear, they’re shut-ins,” she said.
The town’s elected officials asked Matthews to start a list of trouble spots in the town, which Public Works should focus on improving, which Matthews agreed on doing.
Council also agreed to look into making South Shore Road more accessible, as a result of next year’s re-paving project.
Although the Ministry of Transportation and Infrastructure is re-paving South Shore Road, most other additional work the town wants to see done will be paid for and done by the Town of Lake Cowichan’s Public Works.
In a report the town’s superintendent of Public Works and Engineering Services Nagi Rizk prepared for mayor and council, the Ministry of Transportation and Infrastructure’s 2012 commitment to the Town of Lake Cowichan is outlined.
The report reads that they’re targeting a mid-September 2012 construction date, unless the town advises them otherwise. Additional commitments and stipulations are as follows;
• They may contribute to the cost of a roundabout, if warranted by a traffic study. The installation of a flashing light at crosswalks will also be at their cost, if warranted by a traffic study.
• They will not contribute to the cost of any study or engineering, sidewalks, or curb and gutter.
• They will pre-duct for flashing light at Oliver Creek crosswalk at their cost.
• The ministry will accept a bike lane, and will line mark, install signage, and maintain a bicycle lane at their cost if requested by means of engineering design. They will also accept a planted median at the entrance, if requested by engineering design – irrigation and drainage is a concern.
What Matthews has done, through contacting council and appearing as a delegation, is the very thing the town’s elected officials have been encouraging for months. Because the town must plan things thoroughly, and potentially drastically change the appearance of the main strip through town, they’re encouraging anyone interested in providing input to contact them.
Aside from the paving of the town’s main strip, nothing is in stone yet with regard to the upcoming plans.