The sidewalk – which residents had originally hoped would be an asphalt surface, but is more of a gravel/sand surface – was put in last year.
At first it seemed okay, but now areas of it are washing away, with the surface material running into ditches and large ruts being created where people walk, creating a safety hazard. A reason for the project in the first place was to create a safe span for walking.
Kenneth Devine is one of the residents discouraged and frustrated. Years ago Devine had circulated a petition to see a sidewalk installed, and attended several meetings to discuss a sidewalk with the Municipality of Yarmouth.
He notes in one section of the span a French drain had to built to help with drainage issues. Devine says residents don’t want to see the condition of the sidewalk, which the municipality refers to as a trail, get any worse.
As he walks along the span he can point to many areas where the surface material has washed away. Devine says throughout most of the discussions with the municipality they had been led to believe it would be an asphalt surface.
Yarmouth Municipal Warden Leland Anthony says that would have been the preferred surface for the municipality, but he says because the trail was installed on the inside of the ditch and crosses over people’s driveways that are not all asphalt, the municipality was told by the Department of Transportation and Infrastructure renewal that it couldn’t be an asphalt service unless the driveways were paved as well.
This newspaper contacted the department seeking clarification for its regulations when it comes to installing trails and sidewalks. Department spokesperson Brian Taylor said, “A municipality can decide to build a trail within the department’s right-of-way and choose the type of surface they want. That being said, any specific plans would have to take into account the surrounding properties and the effect it could have on them, for example water run-off during rainstorms.”
When contacted earlier this month, Warden Anthony said the project is not yet completed and more work – to be carried out by Aberdeen, which was awarded the contract for the project – was planned.
“The project is still ongoing and its under Aberdeen’s control,” Anthony said, noting the company awarded the contract for the project couldn’t finish the project off 100 per cent last fall because there were power poles that needed to be removed but hadn’t been yet.
The warden called the washouts a bad thing, but also a good thing because they pinpoint where problems are that need to be fixed.
“The washed out areas are where there’s low spots in people’s lawns. Water seems to accumulate, then run across the sidewalk,” Anthony said. “Because that’s happened we know where those low spots are really bad. What they’re going to do is put in drains and catch basins under the sidewalk into the ditch.”
Anthony understands people’s frustrations, saying residents of the area want to be able to go for walks.
Devine says the municipality should also be concerned that money spent on the project has been washing away with the trail surface.
The project was a 2016 capital project for the municipality and cost about $494,000 plus HST. The municipality says federal gas tax funds contributed to the project.