The Glengarry News
Steps in the right direction
The latest addition to the “They Ought To Do Something About That” list is the traffic on Alexandria’s Main Street. Congestion is not the issue; volume is rarely a problem. The trouble is that pedestrians have to take their lives into their hands as they attempt to cross the main drag.
One of the more treacherous points is that section at Mill Square, a few hundred metres south of the traffic light, beside The News office, the Quirky Carrot and the new, soonto-be-opened Centre de santé communautaire de l’Estrie, located in the former Shoppers Drug Mart. There is a constant flow of walkers at that bustling spot and foot traffic will only increase when the medical centre opens in its newly renovated premises within the next few months.
North Glengarry has been discussing the creation of a crosswalk which would certainly improve walkers’ safety. This long-awaited crossing is, according to the township, is “likely” to become a reality this Summer.
So, thanks in advance, on behalf of all pedestrians. Crossing the street is a walk in the park when you are young and spry and don’t have anything in your hands. But a stroll is more challenging if you are pushing a stroller, or have mobility problems, and rely on a walker, or a cane, or are just in general not as nimble as you once were. And, face it, none of us is getting any younger.
Apart from the crosswalk, an attitude adjustment on the part of drivers would greatly enhance the walking experience in Alexandria.
Take a look at Hawkesbury, which is much bigger than Alexandria. The town is pedestrian friendly. Walkers rule in the big village on the Ottawa. Vehicles screech to a halt the instant a pedestrian nears the curb. This charming practice has been respected for decades, years before official crosswalks were painted on the Main.
Drivers who zip through Alexandria ought to take a lead from their neighbours to the north. Slow down, and show some respect for pedestrians.
Since June is Seniors Month attention, this is an apt time to pay attention to the elderly, a growing demographic that will ultimately force changes to public policies, services and infrastructure.
We can look to the south for some guidance.
South Glengarry plans to implement its “Age Friendly Community” policy in 2017, when funds are to be expected to be allocated in the Ontario budget for the provincewide initiative.
Details of the municipal program were outlined at a recent Stormont- DundasGlengarry Summit in Alexandria. As township officials noted at that meeting, an age friendly community creates supportive social and physical environments that enable older people to live active, safe and meaningful lives and continue to contribute in all areas of community life.
In June, 2015 South Glengarry received $23,500 from the provincial government to prepare the framework for the initiative.
For the purposes of this project, older adults are defined as those age 55 and older.
The township found, while preparing its grant application, that 37 per cent of its population is 55; the new 2016 census data reveals that over 40.6 per cent of the municipality’s population is now over 55. The policy outline states the obvious. Ontarians are living longer than ever before, however, as we age we are seeking opportunities to stay active and engaged in our communities all we need are opportunities.
Older adults have the same needs as people of all ages, however, accessibility to health care and social services, transportation, housing safety and strong social networks all become more central to our lives as we age.
At a more basic, ground level, consideration must be given to sidewalks, entrances, washrooms and parking spaces, which must be adapted to ensure they do not become obstacles.
South Glengarry is far ahead of many other municipalities in recognizing the reality that plans must be made today to ensure the Golden Years are happy ones for everyone.