When it comes to sidewalks and consultations, not all Ottawa residents are treated equally.

So by now, you may have heard about the cancelled sidewalk on Sunview Drive in Orleans. It’s a street with a park. Henry Larsen Elementary School is there. It’s a bus route. Staff called it a priority. There’s room. There’s a need. There’s every reason in the world to build this sidewalk…and yet the Transportation Committee decided just to axe it.

Innes Ward councillor Jody Mitic put forward the motion because residents on that side of the street were opposed to it. (There’s currently a sidewalk on only one side of the street.)

The arguments against the sidewalk are really something:

“I just didn’t think it was necessary,” said Kathryn Stonier, who lives on the street and rarely sees people walking around.

People in the neighbourhood have landscaping and interlock driveways that would be ruined by new sidewalks, she said.

The gall. The audacity. The deep, deep sense of entitlement. The lack of concern for others’ safety. It’s absolutely incredible.

The fact that Mitic and the committee rolled over so effortlessly is also incredible. There was no debate about it. No one wondered, hey, will anyone get hurt or killed because of this? Should we even consider the needs of kids walking to school or the park?

No, instead of taking their responsibility as councillors seriously, the Transportation Committee just rubber stamped the motion. They entrenched the notion that the property owners also own the property in front their homes. The needs of the city should be subordinate to the whims and interlocking stones of homeowners.

It’s really damn gross.

Only In My Backyard, again

Mitic, it would seem (he didn’t respond to the reporter’s request for an interview…possibly because he was sick), has decided to acquiesce to the desires of certain residents (perhaps not even the majority of residents who use that street on a regular basis). City policy must bend to the will of residents.

Or, at least, to the will of his residents.

I wrote about Mitic and the idea of Only-In-My-Backyard last fall, when he opposed a new baseball diamond because dog owners opposed it:

This is sort of the corollary to NIMBY-ism. It’s an Only-In-My-Back-Yard situation. Only In My Back Yard will I worry about traffic safety. Only In My Back Yard will I protect zoning regulations. Only In My Back Yard will I consider the wishes of the community. Only In My Back Yard do residents matter.

This isn’t about a baseball diamond or a retirement home or a lower speed limit. This is about treating all neighbourhoods and all residents fairly (which we really don’t). This is about having consideration for the safety, comfort and basic value of everyone in this city.

If you read through that CBC report, they talk about a similar situation in Kanata where Allan Hubley led the charge against safe street infrastrcture:

In that case, Coun. Allan Hubley had a large portion of a sidewalk scheduled to be constructed on Chimo Drive in Kanata postponed until after 2020, following public outcry.

The people whose homes the sidewalk would connect with signed a petition and told the councillor they didn’t want it.

Hubley told CBC in May 2017 it made sense to comply with the majority of people who would have been most affected by the sidewalk.

In my previous post, I compared this to the development at 890-900 Bank Street, and how the city steamrolled residents in order to approve zoning-busting development.

But we could also look at the re-design of Elgin Street. There was extensive consultation with the entire community (not just a petition signed by a lot of the people who live on one side of a street). The community wanted wider sidewalks and bike lanes. Instead, city council decided to create fancy flex-space for parking.

Hubley and Mitic both voted in favour (Hubley at council; Mitic at Transportation Committee, he was absent for the council meeting).

So here we go again. The desires of certain residents are trampled by city planners and councillors, but the desires of others are supported, trampling the work of city planners.

And in both cases, we have decided against basic safety initiatives.

This is a dysfunctional council. They are hurting the city. They’re going to get someone killed (if they already haven’t).

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