The city has not recommended a sidewalk as part of a road rehabilitation project along a stretch of Sparks Street where a 14-unit seniors housing complex is expected to be built.
“Sidewalks are so much better, especially when you can stay on them,” area resident Brigitte Rowe told Sudbury.com while walking her dog, Cassie, along Sparks Street on Wednesday..
Rowe walks Cassie approximately 10 kilometres per day, and said she much prefers neighbourhoods with sidewalks, especially in areas such as Sparks Street, where traffic tends to be fast.
On that front, she was relieved to learn the city has at least recommended the installation of speed humps as part of the road’s rehabilitation project.
Another area resident who asked not to be named said a community meeting last year led her to believe a sidewalk was going to be built along the north side of the street.
“It would be a good thing for seniors,” she said, citing the upcoming housing complex as front of mind when it comes to the neighbourhood’s need for sidewalks.
A senior herself, she said the complex’s residents will have a difficult time walking down the street without a sidewalk, particularly those with mobility issues.
Spinal Cord Injury Ontario regional client services co-ordinator Nadine Law echoed this sentiment, and told Sudbury.com the city should “absolutely” include sidewalks in the Sparks Street road rehabilitation project.
They’re needed, she added, “Not only for seniors, but people using mobility devices, because sidewalks provide a critical connection to the community.”
Neighbourhoods that lack quality sidewalks see decreased community participation, she said, adding the city should view sidewalks as a priority to allow residents equitable access.
To the upcoming housing complex’s residents’ benefit is that there is a north/south sidewalk along Holland Road adjacent to the 1310 Sparks Street property, which will connect them to the nearby library and New Sudbury Centre.
The future of the city’s Sparks Street road rehabilitation project is on the agenda of the Feb. 13 operations committee meeting of city council, at which they’re expected to make a decision.
Classified as a “low volume local road” with approximately 500 vehicles per day, a report by city administration notes the road’s four affected segments rank 427, 236, 699 and 568 on the city’s sidewalk priority index. There are 4,013 road segments in Greater Sudbury without sidewalks, and Sparks Street’s rankings are considered low.
A road design with a “semi-urban cross section with trench restoration, road rehabilitation, no sidewalk and the addition of speed humps” has been recommended by city administration. Alongside a water main replacement, the project’s estimated cost is $1.88 million.
In the event city council approves the plan, it’s expected to go to tender soon, see construction take place later this year and a final surface layer of asphalt applied in the summer of 2024.
Two alternative options, which include a sidewalk on the north side of Sparks Street, would cost an additional $600,000 or $1.2 million, depending on the option.
In a resolution moved by Ward 12 Coun. Joscelyne Landry-Altmann on July 12, 2022, it’s noted that “residents of the area wish to have a sidewalk on the north side of the street instead of the open ditches.”
Landry-Altmann met with city staff and area residents on Sparks Street on Friday morning to discuss their desire for a sidewalk, which they reaffirmed.
In addition to existing residents’ desire for a sidewalk, the seniors building “should have been part of the criteria ... for the sidewalk priority,” she said.
Meanwhile, the city has yet to break ground on the affordable housing complex.
A request for proposals for the building’s design-build is in the process of being awarded to one of four bidders, and a city spokesperson said it will not need to return to city council.
The project was announced in November 2020, when the federal government pledged $556,400 for the acquisition of the land at 1310 Sparks Street, where an old RCMP detachment stood at the time. It has since been torn down.
With the project’s lowest bid coming in at approximately $2.4 million over its $6.3-million budget, it was re-tendered in September 2022 as a modular build in hopes of bringing its costs down.
The tender documents note the building’s 14 one-bedroom units will be 575 to 650 square feet each, and the building will include a 700- to 800-square-foot common area with a universal washroom and a computer room of between 250-300 square feet.
The Sparks Street road rehabilitation project is on the agenda for the Feb. 13 operations committee meeting. The meeting begins at 2 p.m. and can be viewed in-person at Tom Davies Square or online by clicking here.
Tyler Clarke covers city hall and political affairs for Sudbury.com.