Residents opposed to the installation of sidewalks on their Wellesley street packed council chambers Tuesday night, giving elected officials an earful.
The group presented a petition against sidewalks on Parkview Drive. Mike Wood spoke on behalf of the group.
“From the discussions I’ve had with Parkview residents, there is strong opposition to the idea. I have spoken to parents of young children and with seniors, with dog walkers and with joggers. And the reality is that the majority of Parkview residents are opposed to sidewalks,” Wood said.
Wellesley resident Melissa Tusch-Kelterborn came to council in December requesting sidewalks be installed on the street, citing children’s safety.
Wood noted all of the residents are in favour of the safest option, whatever that may be. The petition opposing the installation of sidewalks has 67 signatures.
“The ironic part is that when I spoke with many of the residents on Parkview, the very reason they moved onto that street was because of their children. They like the country feel that the street offers, they like the idea of the large, unobstructed driveways so their kids can safely play hockey and basketball,” Wood said.
He said according to Wellesley Township records there has never been a vehicle-pedestrian accident on Parkview. Traffic studies completed by the township in 2014 and 2015 showed an average of 400 vehicles per day on the street.
“That’s less than 17 vehicles per hour. This type of volume is considered extremely low and in many municipalities traffic volumes that low do not require sidewalks,” Wood said.
He noted residents would not be opposed to traffic-calming measures added to the street, including a lowered speed limit.
After a recent snowfall, he noticed residents in Wellesley bypassing the sidewalks to walk on the street instead. In speaking with a few, they explained the sidewalks were too icy and the road was cleaner. This leads to another issue, he noted.
“There is a concern among many residents that homeowners are responsible for clearing snow from sidewalks that cross their property within 24 hours of a snowfall or they can face fines and be held liable for injuries. Parkview residents did not sign up for this when they knowingly purchased their homes on a street without sidewalks,” Wood said.
He also is worried about the potential for accidents between pedestrians and cyclists on the sidewalk, since many cyclists choose to ride on the sidewalk, despite it not being legal.
Wood also pondered if the township should have higher priorities when it comes to installing sidewalks, noting Catherine Street, which leads to the Wellesley arena, ball diamonds, splash pad and park, is without sidewalks.
“We bought our homes on Parkview knowing there were no sidewalks and we want it kept that way. This is, after all, a street where the sound of horse and buggies on Saturday mornings remains a pleasant reminder that we all bought our own piece of rural life out here.”
Township staff has been directed to complete a report and bring it back to council in the spring.