People living on 117th Avenue can now see the changes coming to their properties with a new multi-use pathway, and are not happy.
The coming work has been outlined in spray paint on the roads, across home owners’ driveways, across their lawns, and on trees that are about to be felled. With this outline completed, the real work is supposed to begin after labour day.
The pathway will run from Laity Street, beginning in front of the Ridge Meadows Hospital, and head west down the south side of 117th Avenue all the way to 207th Street. The pathway will be on the city’s road allowance.
It will cut across lawns, cut up driveways, and take out hedges, trees and flowerbeds. Some of the houses along the route are set well back from the new pathway, but others will have the new three-metre wide path just a few steps from their front doors.
Paula Baust and her late husband bought their house on the corner of 117tth and Graves in 1990, and after more than 30 years, the lot is being spoiled by the project, she said.
The multi-use pathway will take out three mature trees in front of her house, as well as flower beds, and her short driveway will be cut down to the point that nothing other than a Smart Car will be able to park there.
What’s more, the city is narrowing the street at intersections for traffic calming, so there will be a popout in front of her house – eliminating on-street parking.
Her front window and door will be close to the three-meter wide trail, with no visual buffer unless she installs something.
Baust is considering selling, but knows her property has been devalued.
“Before he died, my husband told me ‘You’ve always got the house,’” she said. “I’m sickened. I don’t know what to do.”
She questions the need for the path, which is coming at the expense of so many property owners.
“It’s a waste of money. We need more things in this city than a bike path.”
Her daughter Joscelyn Baust and her husband Brent Jaglum share the house with Paula. Joscelyn is frustrated by what she calls a lack of communication. The project was supposed to start in the spring, was put off, and all of the sudden workers were marking their property, and along road. One of the workers allegedly told her mother that if she wants to save the plants in her flower beds, she had “better start digging.”
“There’s been no communication,” Joscelyn said.
Jaglum watched cyclists running stop signs on the street, and was skeptical they would go out of their way to use the new path, rather than the sidewalk along the Lougheed Highway.
They acknowledge the city may have the legal authority to do the work, but the city also allowed development of the subdivision with its present roads, curbs and driveways as they are today.
Neighbourhood resident Rick Kosko is also opposed to the plan, and said 117th is wide enough for a more traditional design, rather than the multi-use path.
“This (project) should have been two sidewalks and a painted lane for cyclists. What they’re doing is horrible to people,” he said.
Kosko said he has six neighbours who sold their homes and moved because of the city project.
Ray Tiemstra, a resident since 2004, said he is losing a large cedar hedge and about one-quarter of his large driveway.
“I’m not happy about it – I like it the way it is,” he said. “There’s 100 ways this could have been done better.”
Another elderly woman on the street, who did not want her name printed for fear “they’ll do their worst,” said she had not been informed exactly how her property would be impacted. She was fearful of how close the pathway would be to her house, which she had owned for decades, and whether some of her trees and landscaping would be eliminated. But she said nobody had explained the impacts to her.
She said the city could take land away from properties on both the north and south sides of the street, to lessen the impacts her and other residents on the south side of the road, who are bearing the brunt.
The residents say the public hearings about the project were a sham.
“They had already made up their minds – there was no changing them,” said Tiemstra.
Mayor Mike Morden has heard the complaints, and asked city hall staff take a look at the concerns and report back.
“Agree there are several mature trees that the residents are worried about, given they believed all trees on private property would remain,” said Morden. “One resident I spoke with yesterday is saying her trees are going to be removed which she says are on her property. I don’t know where the property border is exactly between city and resident, but with mature trees suspect their roots are well into the project areas that it may not be viable to save them. I’d expect in that case a replacement program makes sense for project impacts to what are mature trees on private property.
“If I had nice mature trees in front of my place, I’d not be keen that they be removed either, I’d certainly want to know what’s going back into place,” he said.
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