Smithers, B.C., looks at bylaw to avoid future 'sidewalks to nowhere'
'I think enough people looked at it and said this doesn't make sense,' says the town's mayor
The northern B.C. town of Smithers is hoping a small bylaw change will avoid future concrete controversies.
Mayor Taylor Bachrach is planning on introducing a motion next council meeting to change the town's rules around infrastructure upgrades by businesses.
He's hoping it would mean small stretches of sidewalks won't automatically be built in places where they aren't needed — as happened in 2016 in an area where the nearest sidewalk was about half a kilometre away.
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"We got so much feedback on that little bit of sidewalk. It was national news for a week or two there. I think enough people looked at it and said this doesn't make sense," said Bachrach.
"I think we need to treat feedback from our community seriously, and when people come forward in large numbers and say something doesn't make sense, we need to do our very best to take a look at it and see if there isn't a better way to approach the situation."
Previously, if businesses wanted a building permit for construction valued at over $75,000, they were forced to include public infrastructure, such as a sidewalk, outside their properties.
Bachrach's motion asks that the bylaw be amended to "include a cash-in-lieu clause that allows property owners, in situations where constructing short sections of sidewalk is deemed impractical, to pay the Town funds equivalent to the Town's estimated cost of constructing the sidewalk."
He's hopeful it will allow the town of 5,300 to continue to build needed infrastructure, but in a way that allows the city to do more projects all at once.
"Looking at different structures might provide us with a few more tools, and hopefully avoid situations where we have little bits of infrastructure that stick out like a sore thumb," said Bachrach.