I've been asked a few times as I've been doorknocking as to what my position is on sidewalks. My answer is this: I believe in a complete collector/arterial sidewalk network so that there isn't a mix of turning vehicles, parked cars and pedestrians trying to access a given destination. The last thing I want to see happen is someone get hit at a busy intersection because walkers are put on the road.
In my professional career, I work to implement active and sustainable transportation measures. I wouldn't leave a road for cars unfinished for the last block to a destination so I would not do so for a sidewalk either.
Sidewalks are a love 'em/hate 'em dichotomy. They're among the last features of a subdivision to be installed, even after you may have planted landscaping in their corridor. Many streets that don't have sidewalks have always been that way and residents like it that way. Many fear loss of yard, driveway space, privacy, or having to clear them in the winter.
However, when there are no sidewalks but there's a destination to be reached, often a path of some sort creeps up anyway. A nice, worn dirt path is created on front lawns. I recall one street that had several 90 degree bends with poor sightlines in another municipality, where the local councillor asked what the holdup was for installing sidewalks because there was a clear and demonstrated need. It turned out that the Council of the day vetoed its installation.
Sidewalks are now mandated for new subdivisions. The Windsor-Essex County Health Unit championed the cause in the mid-90s and the end result is that such decisions have been made so no new gaps will be created. I have no intention of reversing this policy or revisiting it. In fact, you can expect that I will be a champion for filling in gaps in our pedestrian network so that your walk to the park doesn't have to be a game of dodgeball on the way.
Basement flooding has come up as a persistent concern for the east end of Ward 1. One aspect of my professional career that I am very proud of has been my involvement in addressing basement flooding by finding solutions and designing both local and relief systems. I have witnessed the devastation to home and personal property for hundreds of homes firsthand caused by sewage infiltration. You can trust that basement flooding will be top of mind for me.
There is a lengthy history as to the development of Tecumseh's sewer system, as well as that of St. Clair Beach and Sandwich South. Knowledge continues to develop and best practices are now in place. There are many reasons to tackle this issue as a primary municipal function - environmental stewardship, protection of public health, safety, and property - and reducing the frequency of basement flooding is of interest for me as an elected councillor.
Not all solutions require major expense. There are tools that each and every one of us can rely upon. Disconnecting downspouts is something we can begin with today. By diverting stormwater during the heaviest part of a storm, the volume of stormwater and sewage mixing together is diminished. Less stormwater in the sanitary system means that there's more capacity in the system to handle what comes in. At my home, none of my downspouts are connected. I've installed rain barrels for the spring, summer and fall months and replace my eavestrough elbows for the wintertime.
A backflow preventer can also serve as a great tool, blocking any wastewater coming from the mainline side. However it really does need to be maintained and checked every year. It can lose its effectiveness if objects become lodged in it.
There are other best practices at home. Permeable pavement allowing for the water to be absorbed rather than be carried. Rain gardens absorbing surface runoff. Directing some drainage to gardens directly. There is a neat website at http://sustainabletechnologies.ca which speaks to some of what we can do at home.
The town has a role to play, and that is in providing functioning mainline sewers, pumping stations and relief lines where required. From our part as residents, the less stormwater we can direct into the system, the less opportunity to there to run into issues. Plus, it's less expensive for us too - not treating stormwater at the plant means less chemicals as well. Because none of us can control the weather and amount of stormwater coming in, these efforts really can help.
I would like to hear from you as to any basement flooding that you've experienced over the years and what you've noticed. Reducing basement flooding as much as possible is in everybody's interest.