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Hantsport residents split on pending William Street renos, sidewalk to be removed

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HANTSPORT, N.S. — When William Street in Hantsport is repaired, it will look a lot different.

Plans indicate the north sidewalk will be removed when the construction job is finished. It's a council decision that has local resident Jane Davis frustrated.

Davis, who lives on a nearby street, expressed her concerns over the sidewalk removal during West Hants' recent committee of the whole meeting.

“The residents of Hantsport gave up their right to decide where their tax dollars were to be spent when the town dissolved. The carrot on the stick was the promise of transitional funding to repair deficiencies in some of the infrastructure,” said Davis during the public input session Jan. 23.

“I'm fairly certain that not many believed that they would be short changed when it came to how this funding was to be spent. Some may argue that to eliminate a sidewalk would reduce the expenses of winter plowing but this option has always existed without eliminating the sidewalk. I'm asking you, as councillors who ultimately control this transition funding, to do the right thing by Hantsport residents and initiate the spending of funds to ensure the north sidewalk on William Street is also replaced.”

In November 2017, West Hants council awarded a tender to Dexter Construction in the amount of $351,537 plus taxes for the complete replacement of William Street and a sidewalk.

“The question was asked, and rightly so, how much more would it cost to replace both sidewalks. The answer was $45,000 to $50,000,” said Davis. “However, no request was made to expense this extra amount to ensure that residents of the north side of William Street retained their sidewalk.”

Davis wants council to reconsider the pending removal of a sidewalk.

She also pointed out that the public hasn't been properly informed of the upcoming construction.

“There was a statement at the November meeting that residents of William Street would be notified of this project and the loss of the north sidewalk. I can assure you that as of today (Jan. 23), no resident has received any notification,” she said.

Council didn't respond to her concerns but thanked her for her presentation.

Differing viewpoints

Hantsport resident Darren Woods said in an interview that he's not opposed to the removal of the north sidewalk if it means improved traffic flow on William Street.

Woods, who lives on McCully Crescent, travels down William Street at least once a day to check the mail, and usually takes his dogs for a walk down the street as well. He said the street can be quite congested with vehicles.

“Parking is often at a premium at the post office and credit union and when people park on both sides of the road, it funnels so that the road is down to one lane — and it’s a very thin lane at that,” said Woods.

“If a fire truck or larger vehicle tries to go through there, it’s not safe.”

He said removing one sidewalk will likely improve the area, rather than impact it negatively.

“I don’t live on that street and ultimately, the real opinion is the people that live on that street but as a traveller of that road, I think it would be more important to have it wider than have two sidewalks,” said Woods.

The five-year resident of the former town said he's pleased with the recent work being done to improve the community.

“I’m really happy to see the ongoing improvements in Hantsport since we became part of West Hants municipality.”

Holmes Hill safety remains issue

This isn't the first time Davis has been vocal about repairs in Hantsport. After the Holmes Hill renovation, which saw one of two sidewalks removed, she lobbied to see crosswalks installed so people could safely cross the street at key intersections.

That request didn't make any headway last fall.

However, Davis brought it up again, more formally, Jan. 23.

“Previously with two sidewalks, there was no need to have any crosswalks to cross from east to west,” said Davis, pointing out a traffic survey conducted by a local resident recorded an average of 112 vehicles per hour between the hours of 10 a.m. and 5 p.m.

“Roughly one car every 30 seconds. Imagine being a pedestrian trying to cross during these times,” she said.

With an increase in large truck traffic noted, she said it's not safe for children, seniors and the general walking public to cross the street.

“With no safe way to cross Holmes Hill at any point, this has become a matter of public safety,” said Davis.

She wants to see two crosswalks installed — one near Mariner Drive and the subdivision of McCully Pines, and one near the entrance to the Riverbank Cemetery.

She said the previous town council set a precedent by installing a crosswalk on Chittick Avenue — a street that only has one sidewalk. The cross connects to the rear parking lot of the local grocery store.

“The residents of Hantsport consider pedestrian safety a priority. The former town council and administration agreed and set a precedent in creating a crosswalk where one was required despite an inane regulation,” said Davis. “I'm asking you, as councillors, to do the same in this instance and create two new crosswalks on Holmes Hill as public safety should be your priority.”

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