UPDATE: When is a sidewalk not a sidewalk?

The Eagleson sidewalk is closed to pedestrians for the rest of the winter because sidewalks are too narrow for city snowplows.

Why can’t snow be cleared from the sidewalk on the Eagleson Road overpass?

The Ontario Ministry of Transportation (MTO) and the City of Ottawa are both blaming each other for what’s become a very dangerous situation for pedestrians who use the bridge that connects Kanata North and Kanata South.

We asked city councillor Marianne Wilkinson and the MTO about a few of the issues. Their responses are collected below.


PEDESTRIAN SAFETY VS. MOTORIST SAFETY: Wilkinson says she asked city staff to look at alternatives to plowing the sidewalk, but was told it was too dangerous for city workers.  However, StittsvilleCentral.ca has learned that the sidewalk was in fact plowed after the last snowfall, because the piling of snow posed a safety concern to cars travelling under the bridge on the Queensway.

“It was threatening to go over and fall on the cars underneath,” says Wilkinson. “If they can do it to stop the snow from falling on the cars, then they can do it by hand to help the people. They could put some cones to stop the traffic while they do it, it’s probably only going to take half an hour. It’s better than nothing.  In the meantime we’re trying to get the province to do what they said they’d do in the first place.”

There was talk on Twitter today of organizing a citizen’s snow removal squad to clear off the bridge.


CECI N’EST PAS UN SIDEWALK: Brandy Duhaime, a spokesperson with the MTO, told CBC Ottawa on Wednesday that the sidewalk doesn’t need to confirm to the standard 1.5m width because it is not a sidewalk, but a “raised safety curb”.

“It does not meet the standard sidewalk measurements, so it’s just a raised area to provide a safe place for people,” she told CBC.

Wilkinson says that any MTO plans she saw always had a sidewalk,  it always was referred to as a sidewalk, and the standard width of a sidewalk is at least 1.5m.  MTO documents seem to back that up. Duhaime shared this drawing, which appears to show sidewalks on each side of 1500cm, or 1.5m.  (See highlighted sections.)

Eagleson Road overpass cross section
Eagleson Road overpass cross section – click for larger size.


So why weren’t the sidewalks, or raised safety curbs, or whatever they’re called, built to plan?

“We appreciate the City bringing to our attention that the sidewalk on the bridge is not 1.5m. We will work with the City to fix it this spring,” wrote Duhaime.


A GAME OF CHICKEN: Wilkinson says the MTO told her they don’t build sidewalks on overpasses unless there is existing sidewalk infrastructure on either side of the bridge.  That doesn’t exist now, but Wilkinson says they can’t build out sidewalks to the bridge unless there’s a sidewalk on the overpass.

“We weren’t going to finish the sidewalks until we had something to connect them to. It’s kind of like a chicken-and-egg situation. I think they’re looking for straws now that they didn’t meet their obligations,” says Wilkinson.

Duhaime writes: “The ministry’s practice for rehabilitation, covering many decades, is that if a municipality requests the addition of a sidewalk (if there are no sidewalks on the bridge prior to rehabilitation) or a larger sidewalk width than exists on the bridge prior to rehabilitation, the additional cost of the work associated with the sidewalk will be the responsibility of the municipality.  The sidewalk will only be included with the project work if the municipality agrees to pay the additional costs.”

Wilkinson: “They (the MTO) don’t believe in sidewalks. When the original bridge was built it didn’t have a sidewalk. They put a bit of concrete on each side that they called a “snow storage area”. At that time … in 1977 the (Kanata) development had not gone to the 417. That is now built – so they can’t use that excuse any more.”



Wilkinson says the current situation is not safe.

“It’s crazy, isn’t it? They’re going to walk across it. I’ve had several people – three so far today – saying that, despite the fact that it’s closed,” says Wilkinson. “I’ve had too many people come to me and say ‘we don’t have any choice’. We get stuck on the other side because of the way the buses run, especially in the afternoon. In the morning there’s lots of buses going across there but in the afternoon there isn’t coming back.”

“It’s an unhappy situation and it’s one that should never have happened,” she says.

Duhaime says the MTO will be meeting with Wilksinson next week to discuss her concerns.

What do you think?  Add your comments below or email feedback@stittsvillecentral.ca





3 thoughts on “UPDATE: When is a sidewalk not a sidewalk?”

  1. Now it’s a problem? And now the uninformed councillor is here to save the day? Just like the mailboxes only a problem when they wake up and notice what the community has been saying all along? Great job vote yourselves a pay raise or take more developer kickbacks ! Truly shameful but to be expected!

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