The City of Salmon Arm plans to replace about 100 metres of sidewalk on Fifth Avenue NE between 23rd and 24th Streets, pictured here, along with replacing the 23rd Street NE sidewalk as part of the 2020 budget. (Martha Wickett - Salmon Arm Observer)

Salmon Arm tackles cracked sidewalks, potholes, despite lack of 1-800 number

Replacing sidewalks isn’t cheap but city staff, politicians still want to hear about problems

Calling ‘1-800-pothole’ to bring attention to a problem road or sidewalk in Salmon Arm won’t bring a throng of city workers to the rescue. But there is a way.

During discussions on May 25 of transferring budget funds to repair a portion of sidewalk on Fifth Avenue NE, Coun. Kevin Flynn asked what the public can do.

“If people have specific potholes, do we have a 1-800-pothole number? Or email? And the same thing with sidewalks – knowing they’re very expensive, but at least people can provide their input. So no 1-800-sidewalk-crack and 1-800-pothole. What’s the approach for our taxpayers?”

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Rob Niewenhuizen, the city’s director of engineering and public works, laughed as he replied.

“We do not have a 1-800-pothole number. We do have the city’s website which has the ‘request tracker.’ Using that device, there’s the ability to put in your concern or your complaint… Also, you can phone city hall or the public works department…”

Mayor Alan Harrison agreed the city gets lots of good input from request tracker.

“Council sees some of them (requests). And there are many more. Either myself or staff respond to every one and it does strike up really useful conversations actually and much more understanding on both sides.”

To report a sidewalk issue or problem pothole, go to the City of Salmon Arm website, then City Services, then Engineering and Public Works, then Roads and Sidewalks and you’ll find a link to ‘request tracker.’

In the meantime, a couple of too-well-worn sidewalks in Salmon Arm will be receiving a new look, likely in June.

Council approved awarding the contract for replacing the 23rd Street NE sidewalk to Mounce Construction Ltd., the lowest bidder, at $49,250 plus taxes. Because there are additional funds in the budget, staff recommended that 100 metres of Fifth Avenue NE, between 23rd and 24th Streets NE, be added to the project at an additional $35,000.

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Niewenhuizen explained that the subdivisions in the area were constructed in the mid to late ’70s and the sidewalks are in need of replacement. He said the existing cracks and grade separations create a significant trip or fall hazard. He added there are multiple other areas in the city where the existing sidewalks are in poor condition, creating a liability for the city.

Lavery noted sidewalks aren’t cheap at $350/metre, and said he supports the orderly method the city uses regarding repairs.

Harrison said the city has done two sidewalks now and “in my opinion, they’re the worst in town. I commend staff for their prioritization.”

The sidewalk he was referring to, in addition to 23rd Street NE, is First Street SE.

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