Council considering changes to potentially dangerous walkway

Paul Bickford/NNSL photo On Aug. 12, this truck is parked in the walkway on the side of the Super A service road.

Paul Bickford/NNSL photo
On Aug. 12, this truck is parked in the walkway on the side of the Super A service road.

Town council is considering what to do about a walkway on the half-kilometre-long Super A service road.

The problem is the walkway – on the pavement but separated from traffic by a white line – is often blocked by parked vehicles, forcing pedestrians to walking onto the roadway.

The walkway also passes right in front of busy businesses, including Super A grocery store and its associated gas bar, where vehicles are entering and leaving. That includes vehicles that back onto the walkway from about a dozen parking spaces close to the road in front of Super A.

The walkway is designed to offer a route for pedestrians to a crosswalk that will be built across Highway 2 to allow access to the new Hay River Regional Health Centre.

At the Aug. 8 meeting of council, Earle Dumas, the town’s director of public works, told mayor and council that discussion has taken place about putting a sidewalk on the highway side of the service road.

Dumas said a sidewalk on that side of the service road would require a curb and gutter, otherwise it would just end up washing away after a couple of years.

The area of a possible sidewalk would have to be surveyed to see if there’s even enough room for drainage. Another problem is it is believed the town doesn’t own the land on which a sidewalk would have to be built.

“It’s in the air. We don’t know exactly,” Dumas said of how the issue should be handled. “Right now, we do have a designated lane for travel. We’ve already made the road to the crosswalk. It’s just a matter of putting the crosswalk in to get to the hospital.”

Mayor Brad Mapes said vehicles, including big trucks, park in the walkway.

“There are people that are wanting to walk to the hospital and they’re having to walk on the road,” he said. “One of the issues is that the GNWT is willing to work with us to do the crosswalk but one of the agreements was for us to make sure that we have a walkway that works with it.”

The mayor suggested No-Parking signs along the walkway.

Dumas asked if such signs can be erected there.

“That’s up to council,” said Ross Potter, the town’s director of protective services. “If council wants to put signs up and change the traffic bylaw, we certainly can do that.”

Mapes said that would be a Catch 22 situation because if the trucks can’t park there, where would they park?

Coun. Keith Dohey said the service road has traditionally been a truck parking area.

Coun. Steve Anderson, who is a manager at Super A, said the existing situation is kind of dangerous.

“I think we really should look at building a sidewalk on the other side of the road and build a proper sidewalk,” he said. “We’ve got a gas station there. People are walking by as people are driving up for gas. I don’t think it’s really an ideal situation.”

Coun. Vince McKay requested a report be prepared for council on the cost of a new sidewalk and on the bylaw requirements for not allowing parking for more than a certain amount of time on the road.

Coun. Jason Coakwell suggested an alternate solution.

“What about coming through from Stewart Drive just down that back alley or doing something different there and use Stewart Drive as the main walking sidewalks?” he asked, calling it a busy service road regardless of where a sidewalk or walkway is located, and there are brand-new sidewalks on Stewart Drive.

Aside from Super A grocery store and its convenience store and gas bar, other businesses and buildings on the service road include Hay River Suites, Monster Recreational Services, an engineering firm and a church.

–Paul Bickford