Sidewalk question posed to McBryan Drive residents

McBryan Drive area property owner Harry Scheper, left, talks with Earle Dumas, the director of public works with the Town of Hay River, at a public meeting on June 9.Harry Scheper, left, property owner Earle Dumas, right, director of public works with the Town of Hay River

McBryan Drive area property owner Harry Scheper, left, talks with Earle Dumas, the director of public works with the Town of Hay River, at a public meeting on June 9.Harry Scheper, left, property owner
Earle Dumas, right, director of public works with the Town of Hay River

The Town of Hay River has agreed to give residents in the McBryan Drive area extra time to decide whether they want to help pay for a sidewalk.

And the town will be providing accurate information on which to base that decision.

Those were the main results of a June 9 public meeting called by the town with the property owners.

The town is asking 96 property owners along McBryan Drive and in three cul-de-sacs along the street – Abbey Place, Menzie Place and Mackie Place – whether they are each willing to pay $2,510 to have a sidewalk installed. It would be on one side of McBryan Drive, but not in the cul-de-sacs.

The local improvement fee would pay for 50 per cent of the $481,220 project to install the gutter, curb and the sidewalk. The town would pay the remaining 50 per cent.

However, the property owners are also being asked if they would prefer if just curb and gutter were installed, which would be at no cost to them.

The work is being considered while McBryan Drive is being reconstructed following the installation of new water and sewer lines.

Some of the approximately 30 people at the June 9 meeting complained the required two-week notice hadn’t been given about the gathering.

“Because all the residents don’t even know about this meeting tonight,” said one property owner.

Others said a letter from the town failed to properly indicate that one of the two options for the property owners was curb and gutter at no cost to them.

There was also a more general discussion about whether the town should pay the total cost of the sidewalk which it is promoting for safety.

“The safety issue should be paid for by all the taxpayers in the community, not just a local area,” said Ron Courtoreille, who also said the whole town paid to put a sidewalk on Stewart Drive.

Mayor Brad Mapes said the council at the time decided not to enforce the local improvement fee for sidewalk work on Stewart Drive.

“It wasn’t the right decision for our town,” he said.

Mapes said going forward the cost of sidewalks will be included in the lot costs of all new developments.

For the town to charge the local improvement fee for a sidewalk on McBryan Drive, it would require 60 per cent of the property owners to agree.

Prior to the June 9 meeting, 49 per cent had agreed but they will again be contacted to ensure they are making their decisions with the correct information.

The property owners would be able to pay the one-time fees in installments over five or 10 years, plus interest. That would be added to their annual property tax bills.

“At the end of the day, what the town is trying to do is improve our community,” deputy mayor Donna Lee Jungkind told the property owners.

“And at the very end of the day, you guys get to make that decision.”

If the property owners agree to pay the fee, it is hoped that the sidewalk can be installed this summer.

– Paul Bickford