Thank you to all members of our community who attended the virtual public consultation and sent in feedback for the proposed sidewalk projects on Varley Drive and Leacock Drive. I appreciate everyone who took the time to share their comments with staff and my office.
Staff have compiled all feedback and survey results into an “As We Heard It Report” which can be found in full on the city website here.
Jessica Lloy, the project manager, has highlighted the top six concerns that were identified over the course of consultation and noted adjustments necessary for the functional design in light of the feedback received. You can find that information on the city’s website linked above.
There have been many compelling reasons presented for and against the proposed sidewalks. I believe we all recognize that Beaverbrook is a very unique neighbourhood with an amazing pathway network. This path system has been referenced many times during this consultation as a reason not to proceed. I feel, however, that this project will contribute to enhancing it.
I have recently moved to this neighbourhood and have spent the last few months using the streets and pathways daily. As an avid lover of all things outdoors, it makes me extremely happy to see large numbers of residents – young and old – out walking, running, snowshoeing, skiing, and cycling all over our neighbourhood and enjoying the fresh air. It’s amazing! With that said, I am aware that some of these pathways need refurbishment and this is something I will advocate for as part of upcoming budget discussions and the Active Transportation Plan Update, which is currently underway.
Pedestrian safety has been a concern of mine since I took office and I have worked with staff to investigate areas where this can be improved. Varley Drive / Leacock Drive is one such area. School children walking to school, and residents who walk or run or use mobility aids and wheelchairs to move through our streets should have safe and accessible facilities to do so. Simultaneously, traffic speed and volume on both streets also need attention to achieve the safety we are striving for. Both staff and I are very cognizant of this issue.
Bill Teron’s vision when building this community in the mid-1960’s was forward thinking and inspirational and remains so today. Preserving this character is very important to me, as is the need to make sure our safety and sense of community continues.
As we worked through this sidewalk proposal, I’ve challenged myself to imagine the experience of people who don’t move through the world in traditional ways. How does someone with mobility challenges move around Beaverbrook? Is their ability to travel safely more important than aesthetics and design?
Beaverbrook is a community that was built with nature in mind. We embrace it daily; however, it’s important we remember that it is a neighbourhood for people to live in as part of a community. This community is not a design exercise that must be preserved at a human cost. I do not believe that was Bill Teron’s intention when he designed this community. Just as nature grows and evolves, so do humans, our needs, and our community.
We need to give thought to the children making their way to and from school, to residents both young and old who commute, walking and enjoying Beaverbrook, and to those with mobility challenges who need to safely navigate our community. This is everyone’s community.
As this moves forward, all efforts will be made to minimize the impact on trees and driveways. No one will be left with a driveway that doesn’t at a minimum fit one vehicle length. No tree will be removed unless all other options have been explored. Staff will also work to integrate traffic calming measures in the design and ensure safe connections to the pathway system.
Staff will be moving forward soon to detailed design, and will work closely with impacted residents to ensure the best possible outcomes. Construction may occur in 2022 but most likely in 2023. I will provide updates as they become available.