Business Dufferin News Municipal Orangeville

Orangeville Businesses Want Sidewalk Project Delayed

ORANGEVILLE'S DOWNTOWN BUSINESSES PETITION FOR DELAY OF SIDEWALK RECONSTRUCTION

Just as the light is appearing at the end of the tunnel, many downtown Orangeville businesses now fear that a town construction project could significantly impede taking full advantage of reopening. 

On June 7, 2021, during a council meeting, the Town of Orangeville hosted a public information centre regarding the Broadway Sidewalk and Boulevard Rehabilitation project. The sidewalk replacement work will span from the intersections of Wellington Street and Third Street in the east, going west to John Street and Broadway. According to Robert Wray of Triton Engineering Services, the consulting engineers on the project, work is scheduled to begin after Labour day and finish mid-November. That said, if obstructions transpire, work could move into the Spring of next year. The estimated project cost is $945,000, and it could necessitate more once street furniture is restored.

The construction work is to be performed in sections on both sides of Broadway: John Street to First Street, First Street to Mill Street, Mill Street to Second Street, and Mill Street to Wellington Street. Wray stated that, conservatively, the replacement time for each section of sidewalk is predicted to be three weeks. The footpath pavement, in addition to the boulevard paving stones, will be changed out. It was communicated that customer access to affected Orangeville businesses will still be possible during construction, enabled by temporary ramps. Roads will also be kept open, as construction crews will make use of the Broadway parking lane.

Broadway’s sidewalk and boulevards were last replaced in 1991, along with the sewers and other service infrastructure. According to John Lackey, Manager of Operations and Development for the Town of Orangeville, the bricks and the sidewalk are experiencing ‘excessive wear and increased maintenance costs.’ Wray explained how the roots of trees that are along the boulevard are causing heaving in the stones, creating trip hazards.

Among the project’s foreseen benefits is improving accessibility by replacing some stepped areas with ramps and adding tactile plates at street intersections for the visually impaired. Modernizing and relocating features such as bike racks are perks assumed to be realized due to the walkway enhancements. Moreover, staff believes there are opportunities to allow for more electrical servicing throughout the area, which could aid in hosting downtown events. Trees, benches, waste receptacles, and other conveniences may also be moved and replaced due to the redevelopment. 

Of course, construction projects such as these have their drawbacks. Council expressed concerns about the number of trees required to be removed and how many would succeed them. Other consequences of construction often include noise, dust, and impediments to accessibility. These can cause significant difficulties, including decreases in revenue for businesses.

Orangeville businesses located in the proposed construction zone are voicing some of these concerns. 

A supplication titled “Petition to Postpone Broadway Boulevard Re-construction – GIVE OUR BUSINESSES TIME TO RECOVER!“, put forward to Orangeville’s council by Shelley Wishart of GoYoga Orangeville, contains the following message. “I request that Orangeville Town Council postpone this project to another year, to allow businesses on Broadway to recover from the restrictions imposed by the pandemic.” Over eighty individuals belonging to more than sixty Orangeville businesses had signed the appeal.

Mayor Sandy Brown inquired about the petition’s sample size and whether those supporting it were adequately informed about the construction details, indicating that the document could have included more information. Wishart declared that those signing the petition were adequately advised that businesses could stay open during construction. Councillor Debbie Sherwood also proclaimed that the Orangeville Business Improvement Area shared details on this matter with its members. 

Wishart announced the main worry of the concerned Orangeville businesses did not lie with having close or walk over a ramp during the sidewalk redevelopment, but with customers perceiving that downtown would not be accessible. This is supposedly seen hindering businesses and customers that would like to advance without encumberments after a year of ‘lockdowns.’

Deputy Mayor Andy Macintosh asked for the repercussions of delaying the sidewalk reconstruction until 2022. Wray said that it would result in expenses related to maintaining the existing surface. Mayor Brown also referenced rapidly rising construction costs. 

Wray intimated that a risk of waiting until Spring to begin construction is possibly running into the Blues and Jazz festival if the event proceeds at the usual time in June. If delaying the project is chosen, staff suggested that the best course of action may be pushing it off until the fall of next year. 

Macintosh moved on to query Councillor Debbie Sherwood about the BIA’s position on the construction. Sherwood explained how board members have expressed mixed emotions and that, in their opinion, this isn’t the right time.

Councillor Lisa Post asked as to what would happen with existing trip hazards in the meantime if the construction was postponed. Lackey stated staff would be assessing the downtown core soon and remedy as necessitated.

Mayor Brown told his colleagues that he would like to hear more from the BIA on the matter. He iterated that “what I’m hearing is people are leaning towards putting this off, but I think we need to get a little bit more information.”

Council is anticipated to decide on the Broadway sidewalk reconstruction project later this month, with the tender going out in July. As previously mentioned, if the current schedule is approved, work is supposed to begin in August.

In addition to Mayor Brown, John Lackey welcomed further input from the community on the project so the council can make an informed decision. One can submit comments and questions through the Town of Orangeville’s Capital Projects portal.

References – Orangeville Businesses Want Sidewalk Repairs Delayed

More Dufferin News

Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

%d bloggers like this: