Wednesday, July 15, 2009

The "Haist Street Plan"

What do you think about the Haist Street plan?

As one of Pelham’s most-used collector roads, the two kilometers of Haist Street from Canboro to Welland Road desperately requires reconstruction.

The $5.71 million reconstruction plan promises to create a more efficient road system that includes improved sightlines, added width for bicycles, sidewalks on both sides of the street, four raised crosswalks to calm the traffic, and a pedestrian-crossing signal in front of A.K. Wigg School. The replacement of the cast iron watermains (which separated Village of Fonthill and Pelham Township water forty years ago) will improve drinking water quality and system resiliency. The plan will eliminate washouts on the roads and help protect the environment by replacing the wide ditches with an underground storm water system.

The added bike-width and the new sidewalk on the western side of Haist stand as the most contentious parts of the plan. You see, the design calls for a widening of Haist by an extra metre to make it safer for cyclists. At the same time, adding a 1.5 metre (~5 feet) sidewalk after a curb and a 1.5 metre grass strip with new trees changes the face of many western-side properties.

In some cases, the new sidewalk could be up to 6 metres (+19 feet) closer to a home-owner’s property line. (Thankfully, the current plan incorporates a minimum 1.5 metre distance between the sidewalk and resident’s property.)

These suggestions will also affect any landscaping or trees that residents added to the road allowance over the years. The plan shows the removal of 46 such trees.

One can certainly understand why residents would work to improve the curb-appeal of their property or buffer it from traffic in these ways. People here (as elsewhere throughout our Town) cut and care for the road allowance in front of their property.

At the same time, a handful of homes stand as close as 2.5 metres (+8 feet) to their property line. If this was your home, you too would be concerned with any proposed changes.

Thus, many Haist Street residents publicly express concern. No doubt you heard about the 28 “Amend Haist Street Plan” signs displayed for the last two weeks. At our July 20 meeting Council will receive a petition with 147 signatures and comments asking to revise the Haist Street Plan “by removing and or altering elements to keep the flavour of Haist St.” Council will also receive a staff report summarizing the +40 comment sheets the design consultants obtained at the second Public Open House in June.