Sidewalks along sections of York Street, near the fifth, as we saw on Friday, November 9, 2018 in Cornwall, Ontario. Alan S. Hale / Cornwall Standard Freeholder / Postmedia Network

Alan S. Hale / Alan S. Hale / Standard-Freeholder

The Council deferred on Monday a proposal to place greater emphasis on repairing older, poorer Cornwall sidewalks, which would disrupt plans already developed by the municipal works department.

Rather, it was decided that the issue would be better discussed in the budget deliberations rather than before the publication of the draft budget 2019.

The resolution presented by Coun. Justin Towndale is reported to have asked the city to repair or rebuild the 22% of Cornwall sidewalks identified as most in need of repairs in the Municipal Asset Management Plan. For Towndale, this seemed like a simple affair that would have positive effects for residents, especially those who use a wheelchair.

"We are neglecting old infrastructure and some of this work is long overdue," he said.

Towndale noted that former board candidate Carol Boileau, who uses an electric wheelchair, was on the platform and was campaigning for the replacement of the sidewalk at Marlborough Avenue.

And with good reason. Large portions are asphalt, so it holds water and ice. It's also narrower than average sidewalk size … that's the kind of thing I want to talk about, "he said.

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The problem is that the city already has a repair plan that takes into account old sidewalks.

The general manager of municipal works, John St. Marseille, explained that the city already had an inventory of sidewalks running. But every time the city decides to replace an aging sidewalk, it also takes this opportunity to replace all the utilities below.

Sidewalks are taken into account as well as the condition of the roadway and underground infrastructure. By rebuilding them all at the same time, it prevents different parts of the road and sidewalk from being built year after year.

According to Saint-Marseille, doing things this way is more efficient and less expensive for the city, although it takes longer to replace all the sidewalks that need repairs.

"So we try to optimize the dollars (for the replacement of sidewalks) by integrating them into other projects," he said.

Repairing sidewalks without simultaneously processing other related infrastructure would cost more, it would have to be added to the budget or transferred elsewhere.

After a two-way debate, the council decided that it would be better if the subject of additional sidewalk repairs was added to the deliberations on the 2019 budget.

As it became increasingly clear that the council would not support the resolution that day, frustrated Boileau left the meeting.

The vote to be deferred was 9-2 with Towndale and Coun. Glen Grant voting against.

ahale@postmedia.com

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