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Walking path debate continues on with no real closure

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The decision has been made to close two of the walking paths. At least temporarily.
The issue, which has raged on for Town council dating back at least a decade, has seen plenty in the way of debate and discussion but little in actual effort to address the matter, may see the biggest move yet to bring some form of closure to the matter. The three walking paths -two of which connect Trager Drive with Cudmore Crescent and a third which connects Cudmore Crescent to Rotary Park located near the corner of Cathedral Avenue and Dufferin Street – have been the source of much debate, as frequent vandalism and drug use within them has spilled over to affect neighbouring properties, many resident having reported break ins to vehicle and even homes and yards as a result. Other nearby neighbourhoods has opposed closing them however for fear the problems being found there could spill into their backlanes if they are closed.
A public hearing on the matter over a year ago spawned intense debate and ultimately the formatting of a group of citizens on both sides of the issue agreeing to meet to work towards a solution. That solution come out in the form of a request for better lighting, security cameras and improved fencing along the paths, however efforts to get the fencing installed last year stalled when costs soared and few contractors bid to do the work.
The debate was revitalized by council last week, with a desire to see some form of a solution come forward. What came of it was the decision to close, for a period of three months, the two more westerly walking paths, including the one connecting Cudmore Crescent to Rotary Park and one of the two running between Cudmore Crescent and Trager Drive.
“Either we kill it or cure is basically where we’re at, right? Either we close it or if we’re going to keep it open we have to give some support to it,” stated Town of The Pas Mayor Herb Jaques during deliberation amongst council members, adding he’d still like to see efforts made to put up lighting and chain link fencing in the paths.
The idea to close the two paths temporarily was first offered up by Town councillor Chad Zolinski.
“Closing those two walking paths down leaves the one further down on Cudmore and Trager open,” said Zolinski, noting he’d like to keep one open to allow students a shortcut to walk to school still. “Leave the other one open and play it by ear, maybe upgrade the fence in some way shape or form.”
“I’m think we’ve got to do something because I don’t want to be talking about the walking paths every four to five months. Either we do something or we do nothing,” added Councillor Carrie Atkinson.
Completely closing the paths is one option mulled by the Town in the past, however the Town has been advised against doing so by provincial representatives in the past and there is a lengthy process to undertake to close the paths permanently. If the trial run on closing, which last until September 15, goes well however, the Town may elect to go ahead and close them permanently. To do so though would require neighbouring properties to absorb the space used for the walking paths into their own properties, at their expense, something there has been opposition to.
Another issue raised by Jaques is the matter of setting precedence. Jaques questioned if working to save homeowners alongside the walking path from vandalism and graffiti doesn’t open the Town to an obligation to do so for other properties as well.
“The issue is precedence because as soon as we as a community start to repair one vandalized area we have a moral obligation to repair all vandalized areas and we have people in the downtown core who probably feel the same way and as strongly as the people in the one walking path,” stated Jaques.
No date was provided on when the fencing would go up to temporarily close the paths, with how the fencing would be erected left up to the engineering department.

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Trent Allen
EDITOR
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