Downtown business owners say the city is neglecting parts of the downtown core and are taking matters into their own hands.
Jan Tees, secretary and events co-ordinator for the Downtown BIA (Business Improvement Association) said downtown sidewalks have not been cleaned in four years.
“Walking through town today was disheartening – dirty sidewalks, garbage and leaves in the gutters, dandelions sprouting from cracks in the sidewalk – it looks neglected,” Tees said in a letter to council dated April 30.
“Last spring we held a cleanup but obviously the sidewalks need to be cleaned more often.”
To remedy the problem, Tees asked council if it would donate an unused city sidewalk cleaner to the Downtown BIA.
Coun. Ron Kerr said at last week’s council meeting he was more than willing to give the machine to the Downtown BIA for just $1 on the condition it’s also made available to the city’s other neighbourhood improvement groups – Pier Street Association, the Willow Point Business Improvement Association and Campbellton First.
But other councillors felt Kerr’s motion was forcing the Downtown BIA into agreements it doesn’t have.
“Are we, by saying ‘you must do this, you must do that’ before selling it to them for $1, putting restrictions on them that we shouldn’t be?” Coun. Larry Samson asked.
Coun. Andy Adams agreed Kerr’s motion was too restrictive.
“I’m also uncomfortable with the motion when there’s no agreement I’m aware of between those parties,” Adams said.
But Tees said the Downtown BIA has already agreed to share the sidewalk sweeper and its costs with the Pier Street Association.
Coun. Claire Moglove said she was “fairly confident” the Downtown BIA could work out similar arrangements with the Willow Point and Campbellton groups, but that it should be up to the Downtown BIA to negotiate.
In the end, council voted to give the machine to the Downtown and Pier Street BIAs for one year.
Adams said that would allow the groups to try out the equipment – which the city struggled to use – and give it back if need be.
Dave Morris, city manager of facilities and supplies, confirmed the machine was not up to city standards.
“It has been idle for some time because they didn’t find it to be the most effective way of completing the task and it’s maintenance intensive,” he said.