Editor’s note: This letter is addressed to Jeff Bray and Chris Thibert, Dear Mr. Bray and Mr. Thibert, Chatham-Kent’s manager of parks and open spaces and C-K’s director of engineering and transportation.
Sir: This letter is in regard to the following projects;
• Engineering Assessment of the concept of putting in bike paths on Victoria Avenue between McNaughton Ave and Thames Street
• Detailed engineering design project to see the preparation of design drawings associated with the modernization of existing infrastructure on Victoria Ave (such as sanitary sewers, storm sewers, water mains, curbs, gutters, pavement surfaces, pavement drainage appurtenances, sidewalks, street lighting et cetera) between McNaughton Avenue and Thames Street.
As residents and property owners on Victoria Avenue, my wife and I would like to emphasize our support for the preservation of the historic character and environment of Victoria Avenue, which is identified among the goals of the projects listed above. We would also like to highlight some items of concern that we judge to be key in maintaining the overall scale, quality and experience of the neighbourhood.
If Chatham-Kent intends to preserve the character and environment of Victoria Avenue between McNaughton Avenue and Thames Street, then maintaining the size of existing boulevards and minimizing the disturbance of root structure of the mature trees along the avenue are crucial.
We were very encouraged to see that Chatham-Kent is seeking the input of a professional arborist. Will you be notifying residents and property owners of the chosen consultant, their experience/professional qualifications, and if they will be available to speak to the public?
Regarding bike paths, it is laudable that Chatham-Kent pursues ways to encourage the safe use of bicycles as an alternative method of transportation wherever possible. We’d like to suggest that there is no need to increase the width of paving to accomplish this on Victoria Avenue between McNaughton Avenue and Thames Street.
Unlike north of McNaughton, Victoria Avenue south of McNaughton has existing sidewalks on both sides of the avenue. In the spirit of both maintaining the existing character and environment (promoting a sustainable environment of city trees) along Victoria Avenue and saving scarce public money; an alternate solution would be to designate one sidewalk for cycling and one sidewalk for walking.
By being flexible in how Chatham-Kent’s plans are implemented, we believe this compromise provides the potential of achieving safe cycling goals of the city while removing the need to increase paving and reducing boulevard space, and therefore address the concerns of some local residents and property owners.
On a side note, we are perplexed as to why more highly travelled transportation routes in town do not currently have bike lanes. The small neighbourhood scale and the low levels of traffic on Victoria Avenue would be assumed to be lower on the list of priority development tasks.
Another suggestion: if Chatham-Kent does realize any savings by pursuing this idea, maybe some of the savings could be allocated towards the ongoing replacement of sick or dying mature trees with transplanted larger-sized trees.
We understand that there are public information sessions to be scheduled for residents and property owners to participate in this discussion. It would be very helpful if at least one of them was scheduled after business hours so that as many residents and property owners as possible have the ability to attend.
Eric & Anne Hoffman