Scarborough Sidewalk Skirmishes March On
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Scarborough Sidewalk Skirmishes March On

A Scarborough neighbourhood presents the ballet of the sidewalk NIMBYs.

Councillor Gary Crawford of Ward 36, Scarborough Southwest, has an angry petition on his hands—and it’s about sidewalks.

A letter from the Councillor to the City explains the predicament. “In late July, my office was contacted by a number of residents on Midland Avenue,” it begins, referring to the residential street that cuts through Crawford’s ward. “[They] were disheartened to learn that, in accordance with City policy, a sidewalk would be constructed on their street in conjunction with the area water main replacements.”

Residents were not disheartened that water main construction would take place, but that, in keeping with city policy, a sidewalk would be added afterwards (the cost to build a sidewalk after replacing water mains is small, because the digging has taken place).

And so they complained.

The “disheartened” citizens banded together to create a petition stating that: “all 13 homes on the west side of Midland Avenue…are opposed to the installation of sidewalks in the currently planned location.”

Screenshot via Google Street View

The sidewalk is planned for the west side of Midland Avenue between Fishleigh and Romana Drive, and the City owns the right of way where City staff say the sidewalk should be installed.

Instead, the councillor suggests the sidewalk be built north of the 13 offended homes, arguing that the sidewalk policy isn’t being enforced evenly. While his proposed solution still applies the policy unevenly—the homes that complained wouldn’t get a sidewalk while others would—it does have the benefit of appeasing some constituents.

Parts of Scarborough have a history opposing sidewalks. Since 2004 a debate has raged over whether to install a sidewalk on nearby Chine Drive, a road which is the only way to access to a local elementary school. But some residents are adamant the neighbourhood must retain its “rural” feel, which means no sidewalks.

It remains to be seen what will come of this latest sidewalk skirmish, if history is any guide, it seems likely that the 13 Midland Avenue homes will remain cemented in their opposition.