Letter: Few Gordon homeowners have to pay for city sidewalk

City of Kelowna want the owners of the 16 properties [to pay for sidewalk] through the special tax levy Local Area Service.

To the editor:

There are few write ups about pedestrians and sidewalks, except when someone is hit or the snow falls.

“Kelowna City Hall reminding residents to clear snow from sidewalks.” I would love to clear snow from my sidewalk, except, I don’t have one. And I’m certainly not alone in this claim. There are a number of corridors in Kelowna that are busy with motorists, cyclists and pedestrians all needing sidewalks.

The City of Kelowna claims the following on their website with regards to sidewalks and walking: “To encourage walking within the City, more walking facilities such as sidewalks, crosswalks and shared pathways are being developed.”“Sidewalk projects provide convenient and safer walking areas for all types of pedestrians connecting to important destinations such as schools, parks, shops and jobs.” And “A large number of [sidewalk] projects have been planned for the next several years.”

Yet I fail to see these claims in action. Safety for residents doesn’t seem to be a priority for the City of Kelowna. Currently, there are only two sidewalk projects on the go, Bernard Avenue and High Road.

South Gordon Drive needs a sidewalk on the north side from Thorneloe, at minimum to the crosswalk on Paret Road. Yet there are no plans for one.

In 2005, Gordon Drive was upgraded. Both sides of Dehart to Thorneloe and then the south side of Gordon on were upgraded through this plan. Yet somehow no sidewalk was put in front of 16 properties. There is a dog walk, mailboxes, bus stops and schools, but no access to them. This section was also missed in the Official Community Plan recently approved by council.

To have a sidewalk installed along a corridor that serves thousands of trips a day, council and the City of Kelowna want the owners of the 16 properties that would border it to personally pay for the “service” through the special tax levy: Local Area Service.

This section of road should be classified as a “walking deficiency.”

The city’s 20-year Servicing Plan states “Existing deficiencies, as identified through analysis, will be paid for through the general taxation process…”

I am deeply disappointed with the city clerk’s response. I am strongly opposed to a Local Area Service levy. I pay taxes; this is what they are for. This sidewalk would provide a city-wide benefit. The danger this road poses affects everyone using it—cyclists, motorists and pedestrians—thousands of people each day.

For thought: A current issue that is higher on council’s priority list than sidewalks—ensuring dogs have a beach to play at. Will this be funded through a Local Area Service levy, or will it be pay per use? I’m betting the funding will come from my tax dollars. www.facebook.com/groups/SafeKelowna/

Michelle Pepin, Kelowna