Monday, November 8, 2010

Local Area Service Program prevents sidewalk construction

There are many streets in Burnaby, some right here in the Brentwood area, that have no sidewalks in place to provide a safe place for pedestrians to walk along. One such street is Graveley St between Willingdon and Carleton Aves. Although new developments require the builder to provide sidewalks along the roads that they build on, many neighbourhoods that preceded current by-laws making sidewalks mandatory have been left without a place for people to walk (other than on the road).

The sidewalk on Whitsell Ave physically ends at Graveley Ave. A view of Graveley in either direction, shows an incomplete and inadequate sidewalk.

On the surface, the The City of Burnaby's Local Area Service Program seems to be a progressive, sidewalk-friendly program to improve neighbourhoods. However, when one looks at the steps required to have a sidewalk installed in a neighbourhood that already doesn't have one, it becomes evident that the program is an excuse not to build sidewalks.

On it's website, the City describes the program as a way for homeowners to improve their street and consequently "enhance" their properties. By wording it in such a way, The City is making it sound as if the sidewalk is of benefit only to the people living on the street and not to anyone else. It is a fact that sidewalks are a benefit to anyone that needs to get from one place to another by walking. Furthermore, it is not an issue of enhancement, but of safety. It is ridiculous that a parent must push a baby stroller along Graveley, on the road in between parked cars to avoid moving vehicles. In my opinion, it is the responsibility of both the City and property owners to have sidewalks built. A sidewalk is not private property over which homeowners have reign and is therefore the responsibility of the city and the public. That is what being a part of the community is all about.

Under the current program, residents of a street must canvas the neighbours on their block and obtain a minimum number of signatures supporting the building of a sidewalk. This is a major hindrance to sidewalk construction because many people will not support the idea if they are required to pay for its construction. In my opinion, the building of sidewalks in residential areas (where they already don't exist) must be mandatory, and the expense burdened by both the City and the residents of the street.

If funding is the issue, the City must get creative to raise funds. For example, if a company such as the Bank of Montreal funds the construction of 3 blocks of sidewalk in exchange for the right to advertise its brand and products on posts situated at intervals along its length, it might be a good option if done right. The only option that homeowners should have is on how to fund the sidewalk and not whether or not they want a sidewalk in front of their home.

In my opinion, the Brentwood area, if not all of Burnaby, needs a pedestrian advocacy group. I'm not talking about pedestrian activism, but about an organization that brings about awareness of important pedestrian issues that the City must consider if it wants to create complete neighbourhoods. Ultimately, sidewalks enhance not only the properties along which they are built, but the overall neighbourhood and city. I've already written about what elements could make sidewalks more appealing (Appealing Sidewalks). In the case of Graveley St, it would be nice just to have a sidewalk.


  1. Since this post was written, sidewalks have been constructed to "connect the dots" along Graveley.

  2. Just saw this. I'm wondering if the city just did it, or if some residents had to go through the LASP.

    1. I would think that the residents had to go through the LASP as this never occurs without local residents bringing it up. Good for the residents to have it done (and paying for it) as it just looked terrible with disconnected sidewalks.