Character of Dickson Hill Heritage District takes another hit News 12:20 PM
by Ray Martin
The battle of the boulevards continued this week in the Dickson Hill Heritage District as the city’s planning committee decided to widen this sidewalk along Salisbury Avenue despite to wishes of residents.
The battle of the boulevards in west Galt’s heritage district continued at Cambridge City Hall Oct. 8 and residents were the losers of the latest skirmish.
Ten residents objected to including newer, wider sidewalks to accommodate wheelchairs on their section of Salisbury Avenue which is earmarked for major reconstruction arguing that it would take away from the character of the Dickson Hill Heritage District, which includes their street.
Salisbury resident and former chair of the city’s heritage advisory committee David Smart was one those opposed to changing the widths of the sidewalks from four foot to five feet to better accommodate people with mobility issues.
Smart argued that the current sidewalks are in good repair and do not need to be replaced as part of the Salisbury Avenue reconstruction project, and noted that the sidewalks and wide boulevards are part of character of the Dickson Hill Heritage District and should not be altered.
Smart reminded council that a deal had been agreed upon in 2018 between the city and residents not to touch the existing sidewalks, which would have saved money on the project. Following a staff change at the city the project was reviewed again and the city changed its mind regarding the sidewalk.
“This is a waste of taxpayers’ money that could be used elsewhere,” he said, noting that it would make sense to replace the existing sidewalk during construction if the sidewalks were in bad shape, however that isn’t the case here.
“The money that would be saved by exempting the heritage district from this policy and practice would more than pay for the odd sidewalk panel that needs to be replaced from time to time.”
Smart noted there was a similar battle on Blair Road, which pitted the city’s accessibility advisory committee against the city’s heritage advisory committee until a compromise could be worked out.
All new city sidewalks are now being built to the standards set in the Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act (AODA), however there is a clause within the act that protects heritage buildings and features. In the case of the Dickson Hill Heritage District this protection extends to trees, lamp posts, sidewalks and boulevards.
Heritage consultant Chesley Tyers told the planning committee that in this case there are no trees or vintage lamp posts in the path of the new sidewalk and that the boulevard is wide enough to accommodate a five-foot-wide sidewalk.
Sheri-lyn Roberts, chair of the accessibility committee, thanked the city for reviewing the project again and including her committee and giving it a voice.
“Just because a community is deemed a heritage community we can’t automatically stand up and say they don’t have to comply with the AODA,” she said, noting that city staff, the heritage advisory committee and city staff committee all support the wider sidewalks in this case.
In addition to replacing the existing sidewalks, the city has also proposed installing a new sidewalk on the north side of Salisbury Avenue, along the edge of Victoria Park.
The planning committee voted in favour of the changes and the proposal will now go to council for final consideration.
Ray Martin is a reporter/photographer with more than 40 years of experience in the industry. These days, in addition to general reporting, he covers the circus that is Cambridge city hall and keeps tabs on what’s going on in North Dumfries Township. Email: [email protected]