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Charlottetown residents have varying thoughts on concept of heated sidewalks

Ray Martin, who works at Ray’s Barber Shop on Kent Street in Charlottetown, said a small section of the city tried heated sidewalks many years ago, but they didn’t last. He worries about what it would cost to do it today.
Ray Martin, who works at Ray’s Barber Shop on Kent Street in Charlottetown, said a small section of the city tried heated sidewalks many years ago, but they didn’t last. He worries about what it would cost to do it today. - Dave Stewart
CHARLOTTETOWN, P.E.I. —

When it comes to heated sidewalks, people in Charlottetown seem to be lukewarm about the idea.

At least, that’s what The Guardian found out when it took to the slushy and slippery streets of the Island’s capital on Thursday to tell people about a pilot project in St. John’s, N.L., where a city councillor has asked engineers to look at heating a small section of downtown sidewalk that’s already scheduled for repair work.

Such a move could make maneuvering a bit easier – and safer - in the winter time.

However, people interviewed in Charlottetown cited concerns about logistics and costs connected to such a project.

“It’s already been done,’’ said Ray Martin, who helps his daughter, Rhonda MacKay, operate Ray’s Barber Shop on Kent Street.

Martin said some years ago heated sidewalks were put in at the corner of Great George and Kent streets. He said a system pumped hot water through a pipe system under the sidewalk to prevent the need to plow it or salt it.

“(It worked) for a while. Then they shovelled it and put salt on it,’’ he laughed, meaning it didn’t work for long.

Martin thinks it’s a novel idea now but worries about how much it would cost, even if only small sections were done.


Other cities

  • Saskatoon toyed with the idea of heated sidewalks as part of its plans to redevelop the city core, but officials were not pursuing it as of 2017
  • In Montreal, the dream was introduced and then dropped after a change in administration

Wayne Higgins said it would be a complete waste of money.

“To get the infrastructure and put it in and everything else? We’re too small (a city),’’ Higgins said. “Too much taxpayer money would be spent on it.’’

Rose Tomic would be willing to have a look at the concept.

“If it’s a pilot project, yes, I would be in favour of it,’’ Tomic said. “Only try to see if it actually works. But where is the money coming from? That’s the other question, right?’’

Diane Cutcliffe and Tim Rose, who both work in downtown Charlottetown, say they don’t know about heated sidewalks but they need to be cleared much better than they are these days. - Dave Stewart
Diane Cutcliffe and Tim Rose, who both work in downtown Charlottetown, say they don’t know about heated sidewalks but they need to be cleared much better than they are these days. - Dave Stewart

 

Lisa MacMillan is also willing to consider it.

“It might prevent some injuries,’’ MacMillan said. “I’ve seen people fall before and it’s not nice to witness.’’

Mary MacKinnon said she doesn’t see the need to heat sidewalks.

“Charlottetown does an amazing job with what they do. Look at these sidewalks,’’ MacKinnon said, pointing down to a bare sidewalk on Kent Street.

Her husband, Barry, agrees.

“I think it would be quite expensive to do,’’ Barry said. “It’s tough enough to maintain a sidewalk; imagine maintaining a sidewalk with a heating system. They have tried it in other places but there is absolutely nothing wrong with the sidewalk and snow clearing work in this town.’’

Tim Rose, who works downtown, disagrees.

“Every time I’ve walked downtown in the last month I’m afraid I’m going to fall because of the ice,’’ Rose said. “I’ve had falls. It’s gotten to the point where I’m afraid to even walk from one building to another. I can believe the city hasn’t had a lawsuit yet, to be honest.’’

“My colleague fell twice on his way into work this morning,’’ said Diane Cutcliffe, who was walking with Rose.

It should be noted there are no current plans by the city to explore this idea. The City of Charlottetown also declined to comment on this story.

Twitter.com/DveStewart

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