Chine likely to get sidewalk
A major hurdle has been cleared for the installation of a sidewalk on Chine Drive, one of the prettiest streets in the Scarborough Bluffs.
The Ontario Ministry of the Environment has rejected a request from Chine residents asking for another environmental assessment to be conducted to specifically investigate the impact of the project on trees and wildlife.
It’s an issue that has helped delay reconstruction of the road and pitted residents of the street against parents who send their children to Chine Drive Public School.
At the school yesterday, many parents expressed relief that the sidewalk project is back on track.
“I’m happy,” said Danielle MacDonald, a mother who walks her five-year old to Chine while pushing her one-year old in a stroller. “I think it’s a good idea. Its safer that way. I know tons of parents who are happy about it because their kids ride their bikes to school. You never know when a car is going to come speeding by.”
The MOE decision was good news as well for Heather Gregory, a mother who said she stays in the playground every day until 4pm to avoid the traffic.
“I walk every day up Chine to pick my son after school and I have my daughter in either a stroller or wagon. It will be much safer. There are some curves along the street that make it really hard, especially in the winter when there are snowbanks and many parked cars as well,” said Gregory.
Parent Yuriy Balko, who lives on Chine and has a daughter in first grade, is opposed to the sidewalk and says most residents of the street feel the same.
His home was built in 1921 and Balko said it’s important to preserve the historic nature of the street.
Balko said the problem is not the lack of a sidewalk, but a lack of safety education.
“They (kids) are all over the place,” Balko said. It’s not a problem with the sidewalk. It’s a problem with educating the kids. Didn’t anyone tell them how to walk on the street? The education needs to happen to avoid accidents from happening.”
Study began almost a decade ago
Chine Drive hasn’t been resurfaced since 1984 and not only is the asphalt in terrible condition, but work also needs to be done on the watermain, storm sewers and sanitary sewers.
Reconstruction of Chine was first considered by the City of Toronto in 2004, but delayed for a variety of reasons including the Scarborough Waterfront Study and an Environmental Assessment that was conducted even though it wasn’t required by municipal law.
“Save Chine Drive Forest”
Steve Goldberger, who filed the MOE appeal and leads the Facebook Group “Save Chine Drive Forest”, said he’s very disappointed
“The people who want sidewalks are a very small minority. Our problem is they send their kids to that school for a short period relative to people who’ve lived on the strreet for 50 years. There has never been an accident or incident. The people who are unsafe on the street are the parents taking their kids to school. The residents don’t drive crazy.”
Goldberger, who has lived on Chine for 25 years, said the environmental damage will be go well beyond the 20 trees slated for removal and expects other trees with roots under the road will be lost as well.
Asked if this is the end of the road, Goldberger said: ” We tried and we’ll cross our fingers that the impact won’t be as bad as we think it will be.”
Community meeting June 10th
Ward 36 Councillor Gary Crawford has scheduled a community meeting for June 10th before the staff report goes to Scarborough Community Council for a vote and then on to the full Toronto City Council.
Crawford said he is pleased with the MOE decision and considers the sidewalk plan a good compromise.
“I have to tip my hat to staff who are doing this study because I think they really did listen to the concerns of all sides, residents who live on the street who will be impacted but also the students and parents and community who use the school at the end of the street,” said Crawford.
Complicated issue in the Bluffs
Sidewalks are a contentious issue in many pockets of the Scarborough Bluffs, where many residents feel the lack of infrastructure enhances the country aesthetic of the neighbourhoods.
In addition to the controversy on Chine Drive, Crawford has scheduled another public meeting about sidewalks in Cliffside, where residents are furiously lobbying for sidewalks following the tragic death of five-year old Kaleigh Callaghan-Bellanger.
Kayleigh was crossing Cliffside Drive on March 7, 2013 when she was struck and killed by a garbage truck.
The driver has been charged with careless driving and will appear in court June 6.