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LETTER: Impetus behind 6th Street project is water pipes, not bike lanes

'The large, 70-100-year-old Silver Maples along that corridor aren't likely to remain standing for another 20 years,' writes Collingwood resident in favour of 6th Street plans
Sixth Street looking toward High Street from Birch Street. The road is slated for reconstruction from High Street to Hurontario.

CollingwoodToday welcomes letters to the editor at [email protected] or via the website. Please include your full name, daytime phone number and address (for verification of authorship, not publication). The following letter was sent in response to the Town of Collingwood's plans for the reconstruction of Sixth Street and several subsequent letters to the editor opposing the destruction of trees for bike lanes. 

Firstly, I think it is important for people to know that the project on Sixth Street is not being driven by a desire to improve cycling facilities, but by a pressing, urgent need to replace aging water infrastructure below the street.

If there was no need to reconstruct the entire roadway in order to access the water main that is being replaced, then this would be a different discussion.

Doing a full reconstruction of a roadway is a disruptive process, not just for the people who live in the community, but also for the trees that live adjacent to that street.

Root networks are disturbed, drainage patterns change and even with good arboriculture, a loss of a significant portion of mature trees – especially those that are that close to the areas that will be affected by construction – is not uncommon.

Additionally, many of the trees slated for removal are nearing the end of their lifespan.

The largest trees on the corridor are Silver Maples and Norway Maples which aren't going to be around much longer.

Trees last a long time, but not forever and the large, 70-100-year-old Silver Maples along that corridor aren't likely to remain standing for another 20 years, regardless of what we do for this project.

Nobody likes to lose street trees – least of all people travelling on those streets who are not in cars. But the reality of a necessary infrastructure project like the one on Sixth is that some tree loss is inevitable when you're disturbing that much earth that is close to a tree with a large root system.

With that context in mind, I think that the design that has been put forward makes the best of a difficult situation, creating a wide enough median to accommodate new trees while also adhering to best practices in the design of streets for all users.

Capital projects in built-up urban areas require tough decisions to be made, but I think that given all the elements staff was weighing, they have come up with a solution that will be seen as a success for years to come. 

While Sixth Street as it exists today is certainly not a place I would feel comfortable riding with my children, a curb-separated bike lane above the curb is a true all-ages and abilities option that is a joy to ride on – and one that will set a new standard for safety and comfort for people on bikes in Collingwood against which all other projects will be measured.

I can't wait to ride it on opening day.

Justin Jones