Beckwith St. revitalization becomes facelift for surface portion with Council voting to maintain angled parking

February 28, 2018 by

Smiths Falls Council and StaffIt was a difficult decision, but is now final. The Beckwith Street rehabilitation will see only cosmetic changes on the surface, preserving angled parking, foregoing wider sidewalks and bike lanes in the downtown.

The extensive infrastructure redevelopment to be complete under the surface of the street will still go ahead. It was included in both options.

“In my opinion angled parking is what we’ve always had, it’s very easy to get in and out of, I don’t have issues with it and it also gives us, I think more parking,” said Dawn Quinn.

However in the final presentation given by Parsons, the company behind the project on Feb 20, both options would see the total number of parking spots reduced from 120 to 101.  The reduction is the result of reducing the angle of parking from 55 degrees to 40 degrees and removing angled spaces that require cars to back up over pedestrian walkways.

The discussion was lengthy because the full council was in attendance on Monday Feb 26 including the two student Councillors, Bailey Bisallion and Katherine Poag.  Normally attentive but generally quiet the student Councillors broke their silence on Monday night expressing their preferences for the rehabilitation of Beckwith Street.

“My opinion, we’re always looking for change and improvement and I think a positive change would be Option II,” said Bissallion.

She did say however that a straw poll of her fellow students at SFDCI favoured angled parking.

“I like Option II,” said Paog, adding “I think change would be great, adding bike lanes and wider side walks will create a friendlier space and will bring together the community.”

If these two young women had had a vote, council’s decision would have been different.

Every elected Councillor also shared their reasons for their vote on the issue.  Councillors Joe Gallipeau, Jay Brennan and John Maloney all said they did so because angled parking had historical significance and that they were representing their voters.

“This is an issue that I’ve struggled with, but I have a responsibility to the tax payers in town,” said Brennan.

Councillor Gallipeau echoed his sentiments. “It’s a tough decision and I’m going to make the decision based on information I got from the people who put me in this seat,” said the Councillor.

Maloney gave similar reasons adding that he does bike around town.  Quinn argued that bike lanes shouldn’t be on the main drag and that more space could be created with fewer trees.

Still there were three votes for a change to parallel parking, and the additions the extra space would bring.

“The reason I favoured Option II which was moving to parallel parking was that it also allowed us to create a more vibrant people space, it was going to allow for bicycle lanes, it was going to allow for wider sidewalks and a more people friendly space and it was actually the less expensive option,” said Chris Cummings.

Lorraine Allen was passionate and thoughtful. “We hired Parson’s for a reason, and they are recommending Option II.  It is cheaper, and makes the street wider – it is a feature of our town – it has parallel parking, which has proven to be safer especially on arterial roads.  I want my town to be active, healthy and safe,” said Allen.

According to Parson’s switching to parallel parking, would also allow every space to accommodate accessibility needs, whereas to accommodate accessibility with angled parking the town loses spaces as each parking bay has to be wider.

In the end Councillors Brennan, Gallipeau, Quinn and Maloney carried the day voting for angled parking.

Listen to Heddy Sorour's report by clicking play.

The option that has been selected for  Beckwith St. - a refresh of the current design.

The option that has been selected for Beckwith St. - a refresh of the current design.