There’s a lonely chunk of concrete sprawled along the frontage road across from North Central Plumbing and Heating in Smithers that has business owners shaking their heads.
“To have a sidewalk in the middle of nowhere is just senseless,” said building owner Brent Weme. “The problem is that it will never be connected unless you get a provincial grant or there’s some will on behalf of Town council.”
Weme recently renovated the building which houses the plumbing business, and to meet the conditions of his building permit he was required to build the sidewalk. It cost him about $10,000.
In the Town’s bylaw governing commercial development, this requirement for off-site work such as sewer upgrades, paving and sidewalks is triggered for any project over $75,000.
Smithers Mayor Taylor Bachrach admits the disconnected sidewalk is disconcerting.
“When I saw it I had the same response,” he said. “I had a similar concern when I saw that very small chunk by itself. Obviously no one is going to use it until it is connected to something.”
Bachrach said while the longterm vision is for that pathway to be fully connected, the issue is that the Town should not be waiving payment for some businesses and not others. He pointed to other paved parts of the pathway front of the Smithers Mall and Smithers Lumber.
“Council has asked staff to look into alternative models for sidewalk development,” said Bachrach. “They haven’t found any examples in which communities have addressed that. So far we haven’t been able to find a viable alternative.”
Trevor Bruintjes, general manager of North Central Plumbing and Heating, has an idea.
“I hope that this silly sidewalk, in its silly location will, you know, cause change to what our sidewalk bylaw looks like, because it looks just absolutely silly sitting there all by itself,” he said.
“I’d like to put a stargate at the end of it.”
Read the full story in the Aug. 24 edition of The Interior News.