Date: Fri, 11 Jan 2008 11:41:57 -0800 (PST)
From: Gregory Fowler
Subject: Regulation of Obstructive Landscaping (and other pedestrian concerns)
To: “Stanford, Jay”
Cc: “Caranci, Roger”

Mr. Stanford,

In response to your 2007/11/15 email.

I have been personally contacted by Councillor Caranci and Councillor Miller on a number of occasions regarding situations in their Wards regarding Commissioners Road East and local walkways.

I have never had a response from Councillor Miller, and very few from Councillor Caranci, so it’s hard for me to appreciate any efforts that they may be making. And given the way that the most important of my concerns have been treated, it’s difficult to trust any assurances from anybody.

These items are entered into our maintenance tracking system. For example , in 2007 we have a number of concerns entered for walkway/sidewalk maintenance. Some concerns may even be direct dispatched if we know that there is a crew in a certain area.

If transparency were a strong suit, there’d have been auto-tabulated votes and recorded committee meetings a long time ago. That being the case, I don’t suppose that your tracking system is viewable via a link from the city’s website so that citizens can inform themselves about what’s been reported and what’s being done about those?

Unlike snow plowing and street maintenance which is governed by Provincial Government Minimum Maintenance Standards , there are no operating standards for the removal of landscaping materials alongside sidewalks and walkways. The City does have jurisdiction to trim back private landscape materials if the material encroaches the right-of-way (ROW).

I hope that you’re not trying to suggest that the city’s failure to better maintain sidewalks and walkways is because there are no provincial operating standards. Is it unlawful for the city to do more than it is because of the lack of provincial standards? I find that pretty difficult to believe. The same way that I reject Councillor Caranci’s assertion that nothing can be done to regulate the height of wooden fences that border pedestrian walkways.

The goal is to clean all City walkways once per year. Vegetation in any given year will change in a walkway and in some cases poses a problem and in others it is not a problem. If we clean a walkway in the spring, for example, we will not likely return in the same year unless a problem is reported to us.

From my perspective, that is entirely unacceptable. I suggest that you read this post about the hypocrisy of sidewalk/walkway snow clearing compared to the way that drivers in this city are catered to, in light of the city’s official position re alternative transit modes.

In other words , we are often faced with balancing expectations…

My expectation is that if City Council is going to talk the talk, that it walk the walk. And that includes demonstrating support for public transit and the bicycling community in addition to pedestrians. Either that, or remove the self-congratulatory and pretentious language from the official plans.

We are extremely cognizant of our assigned budget (i.e. tax dollars).

I would love to see the city start to do an ongoing direct comparison between the money it’s directly/indirectly spending supporting automobile travel as opposed to pedestrian travel and other modes.

The Division Manager directly responsible for transportation and roadside maintenance is John Parsons.

Trying to make sense of the city’s hierarchy (ie. who reports to who) is another reason for citizen frustration.

Case in point, the dangerous intersection at Commissioners/Pond Mills. When the police concluded their investigation & report, Sgt. Tom O’Brien communicated their findings to Mr. Shane McGuire. Why, I’m not sure, since he’s listed on the city website in the ‘parking and traffic signals’ menu. Whereas Mr. Parsons is listed under ‘roadside operations.’

So who do I approach about the fact that Mr. McGuire has sat on that report for a whole year without doing anything or consulting with anybody (acc. to the response I got from a FOI request)? The only thing that’s keeping me from publicly calling for his termination FOR CAUSE is an undertaking that I got from Councillor Caranci that he’d look into the situation. But my patience is wearing thin.

However , if … a hazard is determined action is taken much quicker.

Re-read my last paragraph. I haven’t seen any evidence that there’s much concern for pedestrian safety, unless you’re using it as an excuse to close intersections to us, or remove crossing guards, etc.

Thank you for the courtesy and the speed of your reply, and my apology for taking so long with my own response. This has undergone a number of revisions, and I originally intended to submit it to ETC, CAPS, and the Governance Task Force.

Mr. Greg Fowler
962 Eagle Crescent
London , Ontario ; N5Z 3H7


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