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City seeks to dispel anti-pathway sentiments

Director of Transportation and Civic Works Chris Barlow (L) meets with Connors Road area residents on August 15. - Jim Sinclair
Director of Transportation and Civic Works Chris Barlow (L) meets with Connors Road area residents on August 15.
— image credit: Jim Sinclair

A city-planned project has raised the ire of some nearby  residents.

The plan is for the creation of a 10 foot wide, paved pathway for use by walkers, joggers and riders of non-motorized modes of transportation (scooters for elderly/disabled excepted).

The idea is for the South Castlegar path to run along a route, the majority of which is along Connors Road.

Invitations to tour the site with the City’s director of transportation and Civic Works, Chris Barlow had been hand delivered to Connors Road homes last Wednesday, the tour scheduled for Friday.

Barlow’s intent was to clear up any misconceptions about the project to answer questions from concerned neighbours. Just under a dozen showed up for the start of the 3:00 p.m. tour. Any pathway supporters in attendance were keeping their opinions well guarded.

Barlow began by fielding the first question about whose idea the pathway is, and whether it’s he alone who’s advancing the process.

“Council is my boss,” he responded, relating details of the process, establishing that the initiative’s beginnings go back as far as late 2007.

“There were public input sessions,” he stated, indicating that specific neighbourhoods, however, were not initially identified.

A skeptical group was not quick in warming up to the concept of the Connors Road phase of the plan, which reported comes with a price tag of about $220,000.

“Why was the decision made to spend this money, on this?” said Mrs. Nesta Hale of nearby Riverside Crescent.

Barlow said the basic idea is to “move people throughout the community safely. “You have all these on and off ramps and crosswalks, plus this is where all your cross traffic, truck traffic is,” he explained. “We looked for options to get people around from that interchange area, safely, so they can go from one end of the city to the other.”

The tour did not change the minds of some, including outspoken opponent John Phillips. The Connors Road resident remained unconvinced of the demand for such a route in the first place. Phillips maintained his skepticism, and even wrote a post-tour letter to the editor (see page A7) on the topic.

Main points of contention were issues relating to the proximity of train tracks—first and foremost, a fear that a buffer zone of vegetation between Connors Road and the CP Rail line may be removed or greatly reduced.

Barlow re-stated a point he had made earlier that week.

“The intent of the pathway is to use the existing gravel shoulder, so there will be very little vegetation loss,” he had said at Monday night’s City Council meeting. Regarding  speed and safety issues at the railroad crossing he had stated, also at the council meeting, “There will be gates at the crossing so skateboarders and cyclists would have to go through the gates, so they could not go across with a speed that would be a concern.”

Barlow felt the tour, overall, had gone well. Conceding that all reservations were not eliminated for everyone, he said on August 18 that the intensity of objections definitely decreased as the tour went on.

Chris Barlow pointed out, to local residents who were unable to attend the tour, that he can make time to meet on site, or discuss the issue of the Connors Road Multi-Use Path. His phone number is (250)-365-5979.

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