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Crushed granite sidewalk causes debate at Nelson council

Nelson city council debates lots of issues, one of the strangest was a lengthy discussion on crushed gravel sidewalks. - file photo
Nelson city council debates lots of issues, one of the strangest was a lengthy discussion on crushed gravel sidewalks.
— image credit: file photo

There have been many heated debates around the Nelson council table involving issues such as the legalization of marijuana, transit and heritage, but at a meeting late last year, a sidewalk stirred up a conversation that dominated nearly an hour.

The sidewalk in question is part of a development on Rosemont’s West Richards Street.

As part of a development variance, the developer suggested building a crushed granite sidewalk in front of the property.

The sidewalk would have a cement curb and what the developer suggested would be an affordable and practical alternative for the strip of street that has a steep slope.

Staff recommended the variance be denied, but council voted to have it referred back to staff where they would address some of the concerns and create guidelines for this type of sidewalk.

Debate emerged when several councillors including Deb Kozak felt there were various questions around the project that needed to be addressed.

“I have questions around the success of whether something like this would work,” she said. “If it didn’t work within a couple years, due to maintenance reasons and terrain, what recourse would the city or tenants have back with the developers in making sure a cement sidewalk could be put in.”

Kozak and councillor Donna Macdonald also questioned the safety of a crushed granite sidewalk in comparison to a concrete sidewalk.

Steep slopes are already difficult for pedestrians to navigate in the winter and Kozak worried loose stones may add an unnecessary obstacle.

“I am looking to answers around those questions,” she said. “It’s about on-going maintenance as well and how easy it would be to maintain a walk of that nature especially with our high snowfall and rain. How practical is a walkway of that type?”

Mayor John Dooley and councillor Paula Kiss disagreed with Kozak and Macdonald suggesting the City give the sidewalk a chance.

The City’s public work department is currently working on taking out patches of sidewalks that have been broken or heaved up by tree roots, and Dooley sees the crushed granite as a possible solution to the problem.

“If this system works for us then we might be able to implement it in other parts of the community as well to retain the option of sidewalks in areas where we might be having some challenges with sidewalks heaving because trees are getting older and the roots are coming up through them,” he said.

With regards to the safety, Dooley said he wasn’t sure whether it would be any safer but thought it wouldn’t be any more “unsafe.”

“The reality is, if it is safer, crushed granite would seem as though it would have more traction than the concrete would, but we don’t know that. Let’s find out,” he said.

Both Dooley and Kozak were happy the variance was referred back to staff where more work can be done around guidelines.

 

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