Back in August, Planning Committee voted to delete sidewalks from a number of streets in Mattamy's Half Moon Bay development south of the Jock River.
3. COMMUNITY SIDEWALKS - MATTAMY SUBDIVISION, HALF MOON BAY
TROTTOIRS COMMUNAUTAIRES - LOTISSEMENT HALF MOON BAY DE MATTAMY
(Deferred at the the Planning and Environment Committee meeting of 8 December 2009 / Reporté de la réunion du Comité de l’urbanisme et de l’environnement du 8 décembre 2009)
ACS2010-CCS-PEC-0035 BARRHAVEN (3)
That the Planning and Environment Committee recommend Council approve the deletion of the requirement to construct the following sections of sidewalk in Mattamy’s Half Moon Bay Subdivision:
- All of Foxhound Way west of Freshwater Way
- All of Sunset Cove Circle
- All of Watermusic Bay and River Rock Avenue
- All of Baynes Sound Way and Blue Aster Street
- Nutgrove Avenue north of Blue Aster Street
This was based on the following Planning report and earlier efforts by Councillor Harder at Mattamy's behest:
- ACS2010-CCS-PEC-0035 - Harder - Sidewalks in Half Moon Bay Final.htm
For reference, this is Mattamy's map of the development:
All the streets but Freshwater Way are named on the map, and that street is fairly easy to figure out which it is.
The interesting thing is that the streets in question run the gamut from those containing detached houses on 50' lots to those which are entirely townhouses. This basically sets a precedent for the future for all future developments where streets are comparable to these. That wouldn't be the end of the world if we started designing (or rather insisting that developers design) our residential streets differently, for example as woonerfs
as in the Netherlands, but I don't imagine this is going to happen any time soon.
Now look at the rationale:
The proposed sidewalk deletions as contained in the recommendation affects only those lands located in Mattamy’s Half Moon Bay Subdivision Phases 1 and 2. This is an area where the majority of the homes have been completed and occupied for a period of almost two years. Staff is prepared to support the proposed sidewalk deletions in light of driveway paving and front yard landscaping having been completed for the majority of the homes. If the developer were to return at this time to install sidewalks as previously approved, it would cause too much disruption to the homeowners. As well, the streets affected by the proposed sidewalk deletions will have low traffic volumes due to them providing local access only, they do not provide an important link between homes and a particular destination such as a school, and there are no OC transit stops.
In other words, they landscaped the place where the sidewalks were supposed to go, then pleaded to be allowed to not build the sidewalks, and essentially got away with it (barring denial by the full City Council). And of course we can't disrupt the residents of a new development, either. No way. Residents of existing neighbourhoods can endure the hammering of infill development and tear-down replacement all summer long, but residents in new suburbs can't be expected to endure the construction of a sidewalk.
This item follows on from one in December 2009 that deferred it until a policy discussion on suburban sidewalk standards was presented to Committee, which was expected at the time in April 2010. According to the recent report, this policy discussion now isn't expected until "early 2011" and the sidewalk issue in question was brought back due to the construction season coming to a close.
It gets even more interesting when one reads the minutes from the original meeting in December (I suspect the minutes of the recent meeting will be as interesting once they become available):
Mike Wildman, Manager Developmental Review, Suburban Services, provided the following background information, and staff’s feedback on the proposed recommendations:
- The newer high-density neighbourhoods have very short setbacks from the front of a home to the edge of the right-of-way followed by a sidewalk. The concern from residents is that the setback from a vehicle parked in the driveway to the sidewalk is too short to provide adequate sight lines.
- This issue originated from an incident where a cargo van was pulling out from a driveway and the driver was unable to see a child on a tricycle that was travelling on the sidewalk. Following this incident, the ward Councillor, Councillor Harder contacted staff requesting an examination of how the sidewalk standards are being applied on tighter, high-density local streets.
So the solution to a driver not thoroughly checking before reversing out of a driveway
is to remove the sidewalks. There's a reason drivers are supposed to reverse into
spaces. Car drivers can get away with it since visibility is good enough in most cases, but drivers of larger vehicles can't.
It will be interesting to see what comes of this sidewalk policy discussion. If it results in an emphasis on share space and woonerfs for certain residential streets, it might be an improvement to suburban design, but, as always, I have my doubts.