Wednesday, June 6, 2018

The path is paved!

Lo and behold! The Sandalwood Park path has been paved!

In case you're just joining us, this path used to look like this:

I took this picture in May of 2016, during a walk-around with some local residents who'd been pulled together by the Healthy Transportation Coalition to pick specific walkability issues that we might be able to tackle. In our discussion, this path had been settled on as an area where we might be able to score some gains for walkability and general improvement of the neighbourhood.

So we went down there that August, on the day of a summer "family fun day" in the park, and mock-paved the path with rubber floor mats. Then we ran around the park all day getting signatures in support of having the path actually paved, and we talked to the local councillor, and we set up meetings, and we discussed options and all the reasons the path needed paving.

It's the main route for the people in Herongate to get to the shopping area across the park, allowing them to avoid walking on Heron or Walkley, which are high speed arterials. The park is used all the time by the young families that live in the housing complex, and a lot of kids on bikes and parents pushing strollers use it to get through the park. There are quite a few people in the area with mobility challenges, as well: canes, wheelchairs.

We argued that the path should be paved to make it easier for these people to get across the park, and because it just looks nicer, less run-down. It would control erosion and dust. It would look like someone cared about this park where so many people come in the summer evenings. And in the winter, when it used to turn into a nightmarish, dangerous, or impassable skid-run of packed, frozen, ice-coated ruts and slushy puddles, it would be possible to clear the snow.

The councillor said it would cost money. Then he found money, but it would take time to schedule. Then last summer there was too much wet weather and crews were delayed. But it was supposed to go in before winter set in. Towards the end of a rainy summer and fall last year, the erosion ruts were inches deep.

I sent video of the ruts to the councillor. But it was too late in the season to start the job, because stopping mid-construction in case of snow or ice would leave things in an even worse state. We were told that construction was slated for June of 2018.

We checked back in this spring as well, and were told construction was going to start imminently. But it was still a pleasant surprise when, on my way home from work on June 1, I noticed the gravel for the base piled up in the park:

A couple of days later, the gravel had been spread out. I almost worried that something had changed and that would be all we'd get - a fresh spread of gravel and a "good enough." 

But tonight, I went by and the asphalt was down. The path was there. Looking almost like it did when we mocked it up with black rubber workshop mats almost two years ago. 

I haven't been the whole length yet to see how it hooks up with the ramp to the shopping area parking lot, though I imagine it's fairly clean. The space between where the old asphalt section stops and the curb on Sandalwood Drive is still as it was: broken, cracked, and the curb is not cut down to the street. . . but it's such a vast improvement. It's finally paved! 

It only took two years of nagging and repeated meetings and emails with the councillor's office. But that's the lesson. It took nagging and emails and remembering when they said they would have news, and asking for that news when the date rolled around, and holding them to it, and being polite, and asking for updates, and showing that members of the community were still tracking this project. I learned a lot about that from the Healthy Transportation Coalition, over the course of this effort.

And now, no one has to wrestle a baby stroller over pitted, rutted stonedust on their way to the grocery store or the drugstore or Popeye's or the mosque!


  1. It's not often we get to declare victory, eh? Congratulations to everybody who worked on this. For two years. You're right: there's a lesson here.

  2. There are few things that make me happier than fresh pavement. Really, I feel your joy.