Wednesday, June 17, 2015

City of Langley's Sidewalk Inspection Policy: There shall be no sidewalk inspections

When I first moved to Langley City close to a decade ago, the streets were swept weekly and the sidewalks were regularly inspected. Due to rising costs in other areas of the municipal budget, including policing, the City looked at ways to reduce costs in other areas of the budget. Street sweeping frequency was drastically reduced, as was regular sidewalk inspections.

At Monday night’s Council meeting, an updated policy for sidewalk inspection and maintenance was introduced. Policy CO-52 clarifies the City’s policy to ensure that our sidewalks are in a state of good repair.

In short, the City no longer has a policy to regularly inspect sidewalks in the community. They will repair a sidewalk if the general public or a staff member happens to notice an issue, and reports that issue to City. Once the City receives notice of an issue, it will then only repair a sidewalk if it has a crack greater than, or is uplifted from another section of sidewalk, by 2.5cm. 2.5cm is pretty big, and I’ve tripped on sidewalks with much smaller “technical issues”.

When I ran for Langley City Council, one of the things that I heard was that people wanted safer streets. This included having sidewalks that were safe for all users. Waiting until someone reports a problem with a sidewalk means that our sidewalks will slowly deteriorate as not all defects will get reported.

While turning a blind eye to the state of repair of our sidewalks might save money in the short-term, in the long-term it will result in an increasing pool of sidewalks that will need to be repaired or replaced. This is simply deferring maintenance to future years where the cost of the repairs will be greater, and when there will be more sidewalks to repair.

While I’m happy that the City's recently adopted transportation plan includes expanding the sidewalk network, the City needs to actively maintain our current sidewalk infrastructure. In the long-term, it will actually end up saving the City money. It is always less money to correct an issue when it is smaller.

Right now it feels that Council's recent actions have placed a higher emphases on driving than walking. This is interesting considering, on paper, Council is committed to building a walkable community.

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