A local man is taking up the task of clearing the walkway that runs behind his house even though the District of Kitimat has the walkway scheduled for decommissioning.
John Patrick Allsop moved to Kitimat this past July, to take up a volunteer teaching position in Kitamaat Village to teach reading.
With today’s housing crunch he was pleased to find a rental home on Gander Crescent, but found the walkway that connects two portions of Gyrfalcon Avenue with Gannet Crescent in need of serious repair.
Using only a shovel, a chainsaw and a wheelbarrow the nearly-70-year-old went to work and spent his summer months bringing the pathway back to life. Underneath the overgrowth, the walkway itself appeared in good condition.
The entire walkway is about 180 metres or 500ft.
Allsop’s work didn’t change the mind of the District’s administration who recommended the status quo of removing the walkway when Allsop’s letter arrived in council’s agenda for Aug. 20. In that letter Allsop describes the work he has done to clear the walkway.
“I love the pathways here in Kitimat. I’ve never seen them before,” he later told the Sentinel.
In council’s report from the engineering department, they note that consultation was done with homeowners in the area and 75 per cent of residents responded, with all the respondents in favour of the walkway removal for the purpose of improving drainage.
“The walkway shows little evidence of use and has deteriorated to the point that it requires closure or replacement,” the report states.
Also, due to the walkway’s narrow 10ft corridor, it would be more expensive to replace the walkway than others in town would cost.
The walkway was initially budgeted for removal in Feb. 2011, but with higher than expected costs for the entire walkway program the money was transferred to other walkway replacement projects.
In 2012 the funding was reapproved for removing the Gander/Gannet walkway but administration say that staff shortages in the engineering department means the work will likely now take place in the spring of 2013.
The removal of the walkway is budgetted for $75,000.
In response to Allsop’s letter he has seen a stream of engineers and town councillor’s visit the walkway and his home.
Six out of Kitimat’s seven member council toured the sidewalk along with staff last Tuesday and councillor Rob Goffinet said they will keep the issue in focus for the time being.
“We decided to study further the concept the sidewalk plan, [and] we’re going to ask staff to fill us in specifically on what they see [are] the problems with the sidewalk,” said Goffinet.
He did say work will be done ahead of the fall to prevent issues regarding water.
“In the meantime as we look at this…the drainage will be taken care of and there won’t be any ramifications for drainage over the wet season coming up.”
Goffinet said that they did talk to some homeowners on the street on the issue and said there are varying points of view with what people want to see done, however he didn’t elaborate on the specifics except to say that they will look at whether the walkway is in structrual disrepair or merely needs maintanence.
Allsop said that he has talked to at least one neighbour on his street who voiced that they would prefer to have the walkway remain closed.
But Allsop believes in the value of the walkway system in Kitimat.
“I like to walk to town, I like to leave the vehicle here and it’s only a ten minute walk [to downtown],” he said. “This is what we should be encouraging here. Not people driving. These were put in for that reason.”