© Gary Kean
While installing sidewalks has been on the City of Corner Brook’s project list for consideration, residents who live along this busy section of West Valley Road vow to keep pressing the city to make it a priority for safety reasons.
CORNER BROOK — It may be a decision for the next group of elected officials to make, but the outgoing Corner Brook city council has given some hope for a sidewalk on a portion of West Valley Road where there currently is none.
In January, Canada Post informed the residents living between 74 and 106 West Valley Rd. that, for safety reasons, there would no longer be any foot delivery of household mail on their side of the street.
Instead, the Crown corporation told residents they would have to either go to the Canada Post depot on Maple Valley Road or to a community mailbox just up the street, which still has not been set up.
Chris Neal began a petition on behalf of the impacted West Valley Road residents and presented it to city council last March. The petition urged the city to install sidewalk along the road.
In late June, Neal received a response from the City of Corner Brook, signed by Mayor Neville Greeley and copied to all of city council and two of the city’s senior management.
The letter stated that it would cost an estimated $115,000 to install sidewalk in the area. While there was no money available in the current budget, the city’s letter did state that it would be added to the list of capital projects for future consideration.
“The city is considering whether the project can be done in several phases such that, if the budget allows, a portion of the sidewalk might be constructed this fall,” said the letter.
While he appreciated the response, Neal said the letter was too vague for him to believe anything will get done. He has already engaged a couple of the candidates seeking election to city council in the Sept. 24 municipal vote on the issue and urged other residents to do the same.
Neal said, if Canada Post has deemed the road not safe for its mail carriers, then the city should consider it unsafe for every other pedestrian.
“We, the residents of West Valley Road, are going to re-present this to the new city council some time in early November,” said Neal. “It’s a busy section of road that needs to be addressed and my stance hasn’t changed. We will keep politely reinforcing our position on this until we get it done.”
Greeley said the correspondence sent to Neal is self-explanatory, but added that allocating money for this project now would mean taking money from another project the city has already identified as more important.
“If any councillor seeking election or re-election is going to start saying we need to do that right away, they are going to have to realize very quickly that, putting a sidewalk on West Valley Road this year means something else that has been deemed a priority is not going to get done,” said Greeley.
The mayor noted that the city losing the $675,000 municipal operating grant it was expecting from the provincial government this year and unexpected expenditures like the extensive repairs needed when the storm sewer on upper Country Road collapsed this summer, have taken a bite out of the city’s coffers in 2013.
Neal said he doesn’t expect it to get done this fall, but would like to see council decide to put sidewalk along the stretch within the next year or two.
“They can find the money ... $100,000 is expensive, but it is not the end of the world,” he said.
In the meantime, a Canada Post spokesperson said the group mailboxes for the affected residents should be installed on West Valley Road in the next two weeks. John Caines could not say if the home delivery service would be reinstated if sidewalks are installed along the route.
“If things change in the future, we could revisit things,” he said in an email.