Work is currently being done on several different parts of the sidewalk on 176th Street.
“Unfortunately, a lot of different areas of sidewalk have become major tripping hazards,” said Paul Orazietti, executive director of the Cloverdale BIA. “I’ve been trying to get the city to act, to fix these problems, for a long time, but it hasn’t been a priority.”
That changed after Orazietti posted a picture online of someone face-planting after tripping on the sidewalk on 176th. Councillor Linda Annis happened to see the image and that’s when Orazietti said she got involved. She then advocated for the fix-it project to get going and work crews showed up shortly after that.
“We kept getting told, ‘There’s a list. And you’re on it, but we don’t know when or how or what time. So you have to wait.’ Meanwhile people get hurt and court cases begin.”
Orazietti said one particularly horrible incident occurred a few months ago. A man was coming out of a local store, both arms wrapped around two bags, and tripped on the sidewalk. The man fell and smashed his head on the ground. He was injured so badly an ambulance had to be called.
Now with repair work underway, crews have removed large sections of cement from around the bases of trees on the street in an effort to better control the root systems. The sidewalk problems mostly stem from the roots. As they grow, they push up sections of sidewalk, creating the tripping hazards.
“It takes a lot of planning to control root growth,” said Orazietti. “Everyone recognizes how special Cloverdale is because of its landscaping and there was never any discussion about chopping trees down, only about how we could retain the trees and fix the sidewalks in the most cost-effective way.”
The city has created lengthy rectangular cutouts around the bases of the trees. This will allow the roots to grow north and south beneath the non-walking landscaped sections of the sidewalk.
“The trees tie the block together. They animate the street. They’re good from a health perspective,” Orazietti explained. “Now we’ll have these larger landscaped sections off to the side, and this may cause slight hindrances for people stepping out of parked cars, but I’m sure, overall, everyone will be happy with how this will look when it’s done.”
Orazietti’s glad the city acted now before others were hurt.
“The cases are building up. The interim measures that they were doing, which was coming in and shaving the sidewalks down, weren’t cutting it,” he said. “Shaving looks horrible and the sidewalks remain uneven. It’s a halfway measure.
“This is going to improve safety on the sidewalks on a long-term basis.”