Roadside persistence?

Steve
Steve Bartlett
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Calver Avenue resident keeps fighting to replace dangerous sidewalks

John Davis figures a Calver Avenue kid is going to get killed.

"It's only a matter of time. ... It truly is," says the man who has lived on the street for 13 years and is the father of a four-year-old boy.

The root of Davis's dire warning: sidewalks.

He says the roadsides are so bedraggled, kids can't walk on them, let alone play on them.

John Davis and his four-year-old son Liam make their way down a sidewalk on Calver Avenue. Davis says the asphalt sidewalks in the area are old, worn and dangerous. - Photo by Keith Gosse/The Telegram

John Davis figures a Calver Avenue kid is going to get killed.

"It's only a matter of time. ... It truly is," says the man who has lived on the street for 13 years and is the father of a four-year-old boy.

The root of Davis's dire warning: sidewalks.

He says the roadsides are so bedraggled, kids can't walk on them, let alone play on them.

That, coupled with Calver's on-street parking, forces the young ones to play in the middle of the road, he explains.

"It's only by the grace of God right now that some child hasn't been killed," Davis says.

Calver Avenue's sidewalks were done in asphalt - 50 years ago, Davis charges.

Driving up the Rabbitown road, it's obvious the sidewalks have seen better days.

There are large chunks of pavement missing, countless cracks and crevices and areas where small patches of grass have grown in the absence of asphalt.

Davis has so much grass growing in front of his place, he says he mows it as much as his lawn.

He says he began fighting for better sidewalks when he moved in.

He had grown up in the Churchill Square area and took it for granted that everyone had sidewalks.

At first, his concern was that he was improving his property but the city wasn't holding up its end of the deal.

Now, since his boy was born, his sidewalk sortie centres around safety. He estimates there are 10 children in his immediate area who are being forced to play on the road.

Davis also estimates 40 per cent of the people on his street are elderly, many of whom have called Calver home for decades but have never walked up the sidewalks.

Gloria Peddle is a neighbour of Davis's and has lived on the street for 30 years.

She says the sidewalks are so bad her elderly father couldn't visit last summer.

"The sidewalks are not level enough to bring a wheelchair up here," she says, adding children have tripped and skinned their knees on the ruts.

Peddle says the sidewalk situation is pretty annoying.

"I'm a walker. I have to walk out in the street because if not you're going to twist your foot over ... It's pretty pathetic when just a couple of streets up from us they have brand new sidewalks, beautiful pavement. It's ridiculous."

Davis has expressed his concerns to City Hall numerous times over the years.

He recently wrote a letter pleading for something to be done and spearheaded a petition of 109 names that his ward councillor, Frank Galgay, tabled with council a few weeks ago.

"I went around with (Davis) with the petition and there's people sick of phoning City Hall," Peddle says. "You can canvass a good many people in this neighbourhood and they'll all tell you they are sick of calling City Hall."

Davis says Galgay and Deputy Mayor Shannie Duff have been helpful, but that just when he thought headway was being made, municipal protocol became a roadblock.

It appears there is no criteria for fixing sidewalks, that they are only repaired if a road is.

Problem is, Davis explains, Calver Avenue itself is not in bad shape.

He adds that a city official told him if he managed to get the policy changed, it still might be years before Calver gets its roadside assistance.

"I came to realize that the bureaucracy of it all is a bit ludicrous," Davis says.

He's now wondering if the sidewalks will ever be safe for his son.

"Unfortunately, he'll be long grown and have his own children before it ever comes about,"

Galgay doesn't believe there should be asphalt sidewalks in this day and age.

He says he's doing what he can to help and feels the policy of only repairing sidewalks when roads are done must change.

The councillor says he is expecting a letter from Davis on the policy that he will bring it to the public works committee.

"I agree completely with the people," he says. "I support them on that. I do represent them on that, and I'll do the best I can. The ultimate decision will be that of council."

Davis hopes such a decision comes soon.

"I'm going to throw out all these little clichÉs," he says. "I'm a taxpayer. I pay just as much tax as anyone else, why shouldn't I have a safe sidewalk for my child to play on?"

Walt Mills, the city's director of engineering and planning, did not return a phone call from The Telegram to discuss the sidewalk protocol.

sbartlett@thetelegram.com

Geographic location: Calver Avenue, Rabbitown, Churchill Square

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Recent comments

  • Peter Johansen
    July 02, 2010 - 13:32

    Interesting that he used Churchill Sq. as an example. Many, many streets in and around that area have no sidewalks at all, like Falkland, and Darling. The kids have to play in the middle of the street, and there are councillors living on those streets.

  • b
    July 02, 2010 - 13:31

    Apparantly, Mr. Davis is finding out that some parts of the city are MORE equal than others. You won't find this condition in the hoity toity parts of the city.

    No wonder other municipalities wan't nothing to do with amalgamting with St. john's, this is an example of what they can expect.

  • Ross
    July 02, 2010 - 13:29

    Do you want to know what my elected council wants to do? Build a multi-million dollar town council building... all while there are still parts of our town without a water and sewer system OR painted lines on the byroads OR even sidewalks in most residential areas (asphalt, concrete or otherwise). THATs not what I elected MY council for. Gawd bless CBS.

  • Heather
    July 02, 2010 - 13:28

    How come kids don't play in back gardens anymore? Sidewalks are not meant to be playgrounds or for riding bikes. While the condition of these sidewalks is deplorable the story might have had greater impact if the message related to the fact that seniors can't use them for walking.

  • CB
    July 02, 2010 - 13:28

    I also agree that most sidewalks and roads in St. John's and surrounding areas need a lot of upgrades. The exception to this is the well-to-do neighborhoods.

    Why is our city in such a sad state of disrepair? It gives the impression that they don't give a darn about our citizen's plight. City hall really needs to shift into a higher gear because they are stalling on this one and it's just not right!!

  • Neil
    July 02, 2010 - 13:27

    Funny thing is that if the residents wanted to fix up in front of their own properties at their own expenses, the city would probably stop them....Talk about your rock and the hardplace....Too bad really.

  • Dave
    July 02, 2010 - 13:26

    Nobody would tell their child to play in the road. The reality is the current condition of the sidewalk is a danger to just walk up and down.

    The residents are not asking for something new to be put in place, they are simply asking to replace what was put there originally.

    I understand many roads in do not have sidewalks in the metro area as well as outside. I do feel however that the city has a responsibility to maintain the infrastructure that it has built, and to not fix the sidewalk because the road is not too bad is crazy.

    Lets see, if the roof at city hall starts to leak does that mean it will not get repaired until they need to replace the windows?

  • Bayman
    July 02, 2010 - 13:25

    Thats the price you pay for living in the city my friend. I grew up in the bay where playing on side streets was ok because the traffic was minimal. Sidewalks or streets in this city are not for playing for many obvious reasons. If you wanted to have freedom for your kid to play outside maybe you shouldn't have chosen to live in St. John's or another quieter part of the city.

  • Michael
    July 02, 2010 - 13:23

    Should consider himself lucky to have any sidewalk at all. Most of Kilbride and the Goulds (all parts of St. John's) are without sidewalks.

  • Deborah
    July 02, 2010 - 13:22

    As a former resident of NF, I too experienced community safety issues with City Hall. And I found that the wheels of bureaucracy turn VERY SLOW especially at the municipal level but JOHN, keep up the good fight! You will prevail!(Eventually) Everyone at City Hall Should make child safety (and community overall-safety) a priority! Wake up at City Hall!!!!

  • Saucy Face
    July 02, 2010 - 13:21

    Aren't we fortunate to live in a place where a story about a neighbourhood sidewalk is considered noseworthy?

  • Nathan
    July 02, 2010 - 13:21

    I think some of you guys are missing the point. There is an asphalt sidewalk on our street, but we'd almost be better without it because of how dangerous/decrepit it is. The photo for this story is directly in front of my house (neighbors to Mr. Davis). It is literally half grass/half asphalt with chunks displaced here and there. Some on our street have replaced it with stone or resurfacing at their own expense, but unfortunately we are not all able to afford this route.

    The danger exists in that a small child might run up and down it (like they do) and catch a foot on the uneven surface resulting in a broken nose or worse.

    I realize this is a problem for many areas of the city and I sympathize. One street at a time this needs to be brought to the attention of council.

  • Telling it how Id
    July 02, 2010 - 13:21

    I bet this problem is not a problem in say, oh I don't know, King William Estates, Clovalley, Southlands.

    But for the average person, it's ''use at your own risk''.

    Mount Pearl has sidewalks all over the city, I can not think of one street without them.

    If we were to almagamate, they would be seen as a tax burden, something for the city of St. John's to maintain, a money drain and would eventually be removed because Shannie Duff believes they do coincide with the ''originality'' of St. John's.

  • Esron
    July 02, 2010 - 13:21

    OK, fine... Screw talking about the kids, as no matter what, you'll say Well, the kids shouldn't be using them ...Let's think about the elderly then? What about your MOTHER or FATHER tripping up and breaking their hip? Or due to slow reaction time, cracking their head open and dying... You'd ?it?h then.
    Oh, and have we forgotten about people who have already broken bones and are on crutches? Even worse, how about people in wheelchairs... Are they not allowed to walk safely on a sidewalk? Apparently not... Most of the people who are whining about the people who have LEGITIMATE concerns... Just get out of the province and go to Ontario where you belong.... You are not Newfie, and never will be... Atleast in T.O., you'll be at home with the whiniest people in the world [Now rated worse than New Yorkers!!!]

  • Where's
    July 02, 2010 - 13:20

    I live on Calver Avenue also, and sent a video of the sidewalk conditions to City Hall, & Galgay,who forwarded it to a Construction Engineer with the city. The video had evidence of 3-4 inch steps in the sidewalk (in many many places) as shown with a measuring tape. I'll keep my copy of the video for when a lawsuit ensues. I still got no satisfaction until I indicated this area is a popular neighborhood with seniors and students who frequently walk the area. The patched up the spot directly in front of my door, which is now heaved again after the winter. I wish Frank had knocked on my door during the election. I would have had a few pointed questions for him to babble on about.

  • Jason
    July 02, 2010 - 13:20

    If anyone has driven on the Ruby Line recently you may have noticed the brand new sidewalks all along the Ruby Line near the Southlands sub division. I live in the Goulds and drive this road quite often. RARELY do I see people walking on these roads as they have nice sidewalks and walking trails inside the sub divisions. However where I live on the MAIN RD in the Goulds there is no sidewalks for my child use. My point is why does St. John's spend so much $ on areas where there is NO pedestrian traffic and are un willing to spend $ where it is NEEDED!!!!! St. John's is pathetic - we need more competent people to run for office.

  • Nathan
    July 02, 2010 - 13:19

    Stop focusing on the 'playing on the sidewalk' angle. It isn't safe for anyone to be walking/running or doing anything on really. The asphalt sidewalks need repair period.

  • james
    July 02, 2010 - 13:16

    sidewalks are for walking on not playing on

  • mothertoall
    July 02, 2010 - 13:14

    I'm with you Jason, Main Road in the Goulds not only doesn't have sidewalks but does have gutters. Kids are expected to walk, winter and all, on the side of a main thoroughfare with no sidewalks and open drains to get to school. It's so unsafe that even our children who are old enough to walk to school can't due to lack of safety. Sidewalks are an issue all across the city...well not Southlands or King William Estates...not that my taxes are any less.

  • Kilbride Resident
    July 02, 2010 - 13:13

    Sorry Mr. Davis but I have lived in Kilbride for over 30 years and we have NEVER had sidewalks in our area and have been a part of the City for 20 + of those years. Consider yourself lucky you atleast had them at one time. Myself as a child and now my child have to play in our driveway/front yard...which is a lot safer than the road. The road is for cars to drive on...not for children to ride their bikes. Improvise...no sidewalks, use the driveway/front lawn. Trust me they'll get over it. Not a very good role model example your sending - ride your bike on the street!!!

  • San
    July 02, 2010 - 13:12

    I too grew up in Kilbride, and there are still no sidewalks. But having said that, the area to the side of the roads in Kilbride are not really hazardous under foot.

    I think the main complaint I see in this article, is the city originally put in asphalt sidewalks and are now in a very poor and dangerous state.

    There were sidewalks, maybe not the modern version, but sidewalks non the less. They have been left and not maintained, and they should have been.

    Asphalt is certainly not the way to go, not as strong or durable as concrete, but I think the point is, something was there, it has deterriorated and now needs fixing.

    To compare this area of the city to Southlands, or Clovelly dont' make much sence. I bet the property taxes are considerably higher, and with the developer, and the potential tax dollars in these new areas the city really has little choice.

    As for the children playing on the street, come on, I dont' think they should be playing on the sidewalks either! That is no more safe..!! A car coming out of a driveway, a child losing his/her balance! Children ride their bikes all over this city on the streets, whether it be southlands, cowan hights, where ever. I dont' think parents advise against it. I really don't. I never let my child ride her bike in the middle of the street, or on the sidewalk. I taught her to ride to the side of the street and I reminded her that the street is made for cars, not kids on bikes, so I told her she was responsible to watch for cars...she never had an accident, and every time I would sneak a peak at her bike riding, she was always well to the side of the street out of harms way.

    Don't let your kids play in traffic. Isnt' that a no brainer!?!?!?!?!?!?

  • Martin
    July 02, 2010 - 13:11

    Interesting problem. But after reading i found a soultion.

    Get a few neighbours together; a few pick axes, a few shovels. And start tearing up the road. Make a few nice pot holes in a zig zag fashion. When the city comes to redo the road theyll fix your sidewalks. And for the love of god, smarted up and get your kids to play in the back yard or take them to a park. If a kid dies cause he is playing in middle of the street that is not the citys fault. Thats your fault. Stop neglecting your kids.

  • anne
    July 02, 2010 - 13:10

    This council has its priorities wrong. Sidewalks, streets without lines, daily garbage clean up should be its main focus. Instead they are patting themselves on the back for donating $50,000 to Haiti, after our government already donated a million. We have a SPCA building falling down and this council decides to donate outside the Province, this is not what I elected them to do.

  • Here
    July 02, 2010 - 13:10

    Sure we can put in sidewalks. Just remember we will be taking your property to do this to. Real Estate just does not appear, and needs to be cut from your frontage but your taxes will not be reduced, but they will increase. Just call we will be more then happy to take your land.

  • Peter Johansen
    July 01, 2010 - 20:21

    Interesting that he used Churchill Sq. as an example. Many, many streets in and around that area have no sidewalks at all, like Falkland, and Darling. The kids have to play in the middle of the street, and there are councillors living on those streets.

  • b
    July 01, 2010 - 20:19

    Apparantly, Mr. Davis is finding out that some parts of the city are MORE equal than others. You won't find this condition in the hoity toity parts of the city.

    No wonder other municipalities wan't nothing to do with amalgamting with St. john's, this is an example of what they can expect.

  • Ross
    July 01, 2010 - 20:17

    Do you want to know what my elected council wants to do? Build a multi-million dollar town council building... all while there are still parts of our town without a water and sewer system OR painted lines on the byroads OR even sidewalks in most residential areas (asphalt, concrete or otherwise). THATs not what I elected MY council for. Gawd bless CBS.

  • Heather
    July 01, 2010 - 20:16

    How come kids don't play in back gardens anymore? Sidewalks are not meant to be playgrounds or for riding bikes. While the condition of these sidewalks is deplorable the story might have had greater impact if the message related to the fact that seniors can't use them for walking.

  • CB
    July 01, 2010 - 20:16

    I also agree that most sidewalks and roads in St. John's and surrounding areas need a lot of upgrades. The exception to this is the well-to-do neighborhoods.

    Why is our city in such a sad state of disrepair? It gives the impression that they don't give a darn about our citizen's plight. City hall really needs to shift into a higher gear because they are stalling on this one and it's just not right!!

  • Neil
    July 01, 2010 - 20:14

    Funny thing is that if the residents wanted to fix up in front of their own properties at their own expenses, the city would probably stop them....Talk about your rock and the hardplace....Too bad really.

  • Dave
    July 01, 2010 - 20:12

    Nobody would tell their child to play in the road. The reality is the current condition of the sidewalk is a danger to just walk up and down.

    The residents are not asking for something new to be put in place, they are simply asking to replace what was put there originally.

    I understand many roads in do not have sidewalks in the metro area as well as outside. I do feel however that the city has a responsibility to maintain the infrastructure that it has built, and to not fix the sidewalk because the road is not too bad is crazy.

    Lets see, if the roof at city hall starts to leak does that mean it will not get repaired until they need to replace the windows?

  • Bayman
    July 01, 2010 - 20:12

    Thats the price you pay for living in the city my friend. I grew up in the bay where playing on side streets was ok because the traffic was minimal. Sidewalks or streets in this city are not for playing for many obvious reasons. If you wanted to have freedom for your kid to play outside maybe you shouldn't have chosen to live in St. John's or another quieter part of the city.

  • Michael
    July 01, 2010 - 20:08

    Should consider himself lucky to have any sidewalk at all. Most of Kilbride and the Goulds (all parts of St. John's) are without sidewalks.

  • Deborah
    July 01, 2010 - 20:06

    As a former resident of NF, I too experienced community safety issues with City Hall. And I found that the wheels of bureaucracy turn VERY SLOW especially at the municipal level but JOHN, keep up the good fight! You will prevail!(Eventually) Everyone at City Hall Should make child safety (and community overall-safety) a priority! Wake up at City Hall!!!!

  • Saucy Face
    July 01, 2010 - 20:05

    Aren't we fortunate to live in a place where a story about a neighbourhood sidewalk is considered noseworthy?

  • Nathan
    July 01, 2010 - 20:04

    I think some of you guys are missing the point. There is an asphalt sidewalk on our street, but we'd almost be better without it because of how dangerous/decrepit it is. The photo for this story is directly in front of my house (neighbors to Mr. Davis). It is literally half grass/half asphalt with chunks displaced here and there. Some on our street have replaced it with stone or resurfacing at their own expense, but unfortunately we are not all able to afford this route.

    The danger exists in that a small child might run up and down it (like they do) and catch a foot on the uneven surface resulting in a broken nose or worse.

    I realize this is a problem for many areas of the city and I sympathize. One street at a time this needs to be brought to the attention of council.

  • Telling it how Id
    July 01, 2010 - 20:04

    I bet this problem is not a problem in say, oh I don't know, King William Estates, Clovalley, Southlands.

    But for the average person, it's ''use at your own risk''.

    Mount Pearl has sidewalks all over the city, I can not think of one street without them.

    If we were to almagamate, they would be seen as a tax burden, something for the city of St. John's to maintain, a money drain and would eventually be removed because Shannie Duff believes they do coincide with the ''originality'' of St. John's.

  • Esron
    July 01, 2010 - 20:04

    OK, fine... Screw talking about the kids, as no matter what, you'll say Well, the kids shouldn't be using them ...Let's think about the elderly then? What about your MOTHER or FATHER tripping up and breaking their hip? Or due to slow reaction time, cracking their head open and dying... You'd ?it?h then.
    Oh, and have we forgotten about people who have already broken bones and are on crutches? Even worse, how about people in wheelchairs... Are they not allowed to walk safely on a sidewalk? Apparently not... Most of the people who are whining about the people who have LEGITIMATE concerns... Just get out of the province and go to Ontario where you belong.... You are not Newfie, and never will be... Atleast in T.O., you'll be at home with the whiniest people in the world [Now rated worse than New Yorkers!!!]

  • Where's
    July 01, 2010 - 20:03

    I live on Calver Avenue also, and sent a video of the sidewalk conditions to City Hall, & Galgay,who forwarded it to a Construction Engineer with the city. The video had evidence of 3-4 inch steps in the sidewalk (in many many places) as shown with a measuring tape. I'll keep my copy of the video for when a lawsuit ensues. I still got no satisfaction until I indicated this area is a popular neighborhood with seniors and students who frequently walk the area. The patched up the spot directly in front of my door, which is now heaved again after the winter. I wish Frank had knocked on my door during the election. I would have had a few pointed questions for him to babble on about.

  • Jason
    July 01, 2010 - 20:02

    If anyone has driven on the Ruby Line recently you may have noticed the brand new sidewalks all along the Ruby Line near the Southlands sub division. I live in the Goulds and drive this road quite often. RARELY do I see people walking on these roads as they have nice sidewalks and walking trails inside the sub divisions. However where I live on the MAIN RD in the Goulds there is no sidewalks for my child use. My point is why does St. John's spend so much $ on areas where there is NO pedestrian traffic and are un willing to spend $ where it is NEEDED!!!!! St. John's is pathetic - we need more competent people to run for office.

  • Nathan
    July 01, 2010 - 20:01

    Stop focusing on the 'playing on the sidewalk' angle. It isn't safe for anyone to be walking/running or doing anything on really. The asphalt sidewalks need repair period.

  • james
    July 01, 2010 - 19:57

    sidewalks are for walking on not playing on

  • mothertoall
    July 01, 2010 - 19:53

    I'm with you Jason, Main Road in the Goulds not only doesn't have sidewalks but does have gutters. Kids are expected to walk, winter and all, on the side of a main thoroughfare with no sidewalks and open drains to get to school. It's so unsafe that even our children who are old enough to walk to school can't due to lack of safety. Sidewalks are an issue all across the city...well not Southlands or King William Estates...not that my taxes are any less.

  • Kilbride Resident
    July 01, 2010 - 19:52

    Sorry Mr. Davis but I have lived in Kilbride for over 30 years and we have NEVER had sidewalks in our area and have been a part of the City for 20 + of those years. Consider yourself lucky you atleast had them at one time. Myself as a child and now my child have to play in our driveway/front yard...which is a lot safer than the road. The road is for cars to drive on...not for children to ride their bikes. Improvise...no sidewalks, use the driveway/front lawn. Trust me they'll get over it. Not a very good role model example your sending - ride your bike on the street!!!

  • San
    July 01, 2010 - 19:50

    I too grew up in Kilbride, and there are still no sidewalks. But having said that, the area to the side of the roads in Kilbride are not really hazardous under foot.

    I think the main complaint I see in this article, is the city originally put in asphalt sidewalks and are now in a very poor and dangerous state.

    There were sidewalks, maybe not the modern version, but sidewalks non the less. They have been left and not maintained, and they should have been.

    Asphalt is certainly not the way to go, not as strong or durable as concrete, but I think the point is, something was there, it has deterriorated and now needs fixing.

    To compare this area of the city to Southlands, or Clovelly dont' make much sence. I bet the property taxes are considerably higher, and with the developer, and the potential tax dollars in these new areas the city really has little choice.

    As for the children playing on the street, come on, I dont' think they should be playing on the sidewalks either! That is no more safe..!! A car coming out of a driveway, a child losing his/her balance! Children ride their bikes all over this city on the streets, whether it be southlands, cowan hights, where ever. I dont' think parents advise against it. I really don't. I never let my child ride her bike in the middle of the street, or on the sidewalk. I taught her to ride to the side of the street and I reminded her that the street is made for cars, not kids on bikes, so I told her she was responsible to watch for cars...she never had an accident, and every time I would sneak a peak at her bike riding, she was always well to the side of the street out of harms way.

    Don't let your kids play in traffic. Isnt' that a no brainer!?!?!?!?!?!?

  • Martin
    July 01, 2010 - 19:47

    Interesting problem. But after reading i found a soultion.

    Get a few neighbours together; a few pick axes, a few shovels. And start tearing up the road. Make a few nice pot holes in a zig zag fashion. When the city comes to redo the road theyll fix your sidewalks. And for the love of god, smarted up and get your kids to play in the back yard or take them to a park. If a kid dies cause he is playing in middle of the street that is not the citys fault. Thats your fault. Stop neglecting your kids.

  • anne
    July 01, 2010 - 19:47

    This council has its priorities wrong. Sidewalks, streets without lines, daily garbage clean up should be its main focus. Instead they are patting themselves on the back for donating $50,000 to Haiti, after our government already donated a million. We have a SPCA building falling down and this council decides to donate outside the Province, this is not what I elected them to do.

  • Here
    July 01, 2010 - 19:46

    Sure we can put in sidewalks. Just remember we will be taking your property to do this to. Real Estate just does not appear, and needs to be cut from your frontage but your taxes will not be reduced, but they will increase. Just call we will be more then happy to take your land.