‘Spirited debate’ expected for proposed sidewalk

O'Dell Street. Image courtesy of Google Maps. Altered by the city of Sarnia to show the proposed sidewalk.

Sarnia’s mayor is expecting a “spirited debate” over the installation of a new sidewalk in a north end community during Monday’s council meeting.

The Lambton Kent District School Board and Chatham-Kent Administrative School Services is asking for a new path to be constructed along the south side of O’Dell Street from Colborne Road to King George VI School.

Mayor Mike Bradley said it appears the majority of neighbours are not supportive.

“So that’s going to be one of these ‘Solomon-like decisions’ that council is going to be put in the middle of, to decide the safety concern versus the impact on peoples properties,” said Bradley.

Bradley said the safety concern is a valid one.

“However, we also have to respect the neighbourhood and [question if] this is going to have a positive impact or negative impact on them.”

Mayor Bradley said his advice to council is to refrain from taking a position on the issue until they’ve heard from the delegations in the public hearing.

“I am aware that it’s a fairly congested area. The school itself doesn’t have enough property to deal with all of the parking issues and people coming in and out. This council has been very focused on safety, whether it be automotive safety, and pedestrian safety, so they’ve got themselves in the middle of what’s going to be a very spirited debate.”

The city said 24 residents in the area were consulted on the proposal and 19 opposed the idea, one was in favour and four didn’t reply.

The city said opposition to infill projects is common and typical concerns include the loss of usable driveway space and the impact to existing trees and landscaping.

The sidewalk, estimated to cost $55,000, was identified as the safest option to protect students.

Speed humps and improved drop off locations on other streets were some of the other considerations.

The meeting in Sarnia council chambers starts at 1 p.m.