Councillor Stolte suggests the city 'expand the sidewalk”.

News 100 blueBy Pepper Parr

April 18th, 2020



The height of a building, the architecture and design are both important and for the people of Burlington they are, at this point, a major focus.

Shawna Stolte hand to mouthBut more important than the two is the street.

Streets are where we live – yes, your home is on a street but a lousy street ruins the most impressive home.

Ward 4 Councillor Shawna Stolte will be putting a motion before Council on Monday – she wants to change the way streets are used during this COVID-19.

Stolte wants to direct the Director of Transportation Services to assess, create and implement as soon as possible, and with input from other city departments and members of the Cycling and ITAC Committees, a “Shared Streets Burlington” Pilot Project with the goal of temporarily closing portions of roadways to allow for safer physical distancing for pedestrians and cyclists for the duration of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Streetscape Alton Village

Under normal conditions – this is more then enough sidewalk – but these are not normal times

The residents of Burlington, along with City Council and City Staff, are all committed to the goal of stopping the spread of COVID-19 in our community.

Stolte accepts that the role of City Council and staff, is to amplify the message of medical experts in regard to adhering to physical distancing requirements while also considering a longer term plan that acknowledges residents need for physical exercise and fresh air in order to effectively manage their mental health and well-being.

She points to recent Angus Reid Poll that asked, “if there is anything residents are doing more of than normal since being isolated” and 53% reported “going for more walks” and 26% reported “taking up extra exercise”.

City streets and sidewalks are places residents are permitted to travel outside their homes but sidewalks are simply not wide enough to ensure the physical distancing requirements recommended by medical experts and the informal use of grass boulevards does not provide a safe nor viable alternative for wheelchairs, strollers or bicycles.

The streets weren't crowded but the turnout was worth holding the event again nest year. Next car free day will be downton July 15th.

Is shutting down a street and opening it up to people who can just walk and ride bikes a solution?

These sidewalks and multi-use paths are becoming more congested as the seasons change, temperatures are rising, and residents seek outlets to support their mental health and well-being.

The space to expand outdoor physical distancing is available.

Roadways are underutilized due to reduced traffic volumes and represent a clear and simple alternative to “expand the sidewalk”.

There are many resources already available, as well as an established work group comprised of dedicated residents from the ITAC and Cycling Committee who have been meeting to research strategies and suggestions for implementation.

Some suggestions are as follows:

  • begin with a Pilot Project to measure, monitor and learn as well as to assess the willingness of the community to participate in a safe manner;
  • consider a phased approach that can adapt/expand as needed;
Carpentr House - walking the trail

Community walks like this are not on – the Beachway Trail can’t handle the traffic – can part of the roadway be opened to pedestrians?

  • offer multiple, local, widespread, “very ordinary” locations to create the opposite of a destination to avoid gathering crowds
  • to network streets and coordinate with park locations;
  • ensure strong signage and communication;
  • consider a variety of options such as closing off curb lanes on thoroughfares (ex. Maple, Palladium Way, Prospect -east of Guelph) or installing strong “Shared Streets” signage on key neighbourhood streets (ex. Spruce, Townsend, Palmer, Millcroft Park)
Shawana Stolte 1

Ward 4 Councillor Shawna Stolte has put a good idea on the table – now the community has to join in and flesh this out. The bureaucrats need to lighten up a little and get creative as well.

Stolte points out that the “motion is intended to encourage a realistic, longer term plan that will ensure safe “physical distancing” as well as strive for the balance that is needed to support physical exercise and mental health initiatives, by literally creating more space for people to get outside and breathe.

It’s an interesting idea – Stolte has done her part. Now it is up to the people who live on those streets to think about how they would change their streets.

Talk to your neighbours – write up your ideas and send them to the Councillor – at

Let’s see if this idea has any traction.

And let’s see how creative the folks in the Transportation Department can be.


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19 comments to Councillor Stolte suggests the city ‘expand the sidewalk’.

  • Phillip Wooster

    I am seeing a troubling parallel with Stolte’s proposal with that of the Strathcona Sidewalk decision. Stolte championed installing sidewalks on Strathcona when there was no demonstrated need for them–in fact, the community was not in favour of them but a few squeaky wheels put the bug in Stolte’s ear (please note–one of them didn’t even live in the Strathcona community). Stolte listened to the squeaky wheels and bang–there went at least $800,000 of taxpayers money. Thjs was a solution in search of a problem.

    Now I am seeing that Stolte is getting very good feedback from key members of the cycling community. Once again, she is extrapolating the agenda of a few squeaky wheels to broader community accceptance. Once again, no demonstrated need–another solution in search of a problem. How much will this cost????

    • Phillip Wooster

      David, there is a significant difference between expressing your ideas in a public forum which is healthy in a democracy and quite another to be tallking to a councilllor directly (lobbying) to get your objectives brought forward and enacted.

  • David

    Just one more thing, councillors from other wards interfering in ward-2 should mind their own business. When the old gang of councillors were in play they constantly poked their collective noses into downtowns business.
    The current look of downtown was not counsellor Meed Wards doing, It was other councillors from other wards who made downtown what it is today.

    • Jim Young

      Hi David, does minding our own business mean no longer coming downtown from other wards to dine, visit, spend money, stimulate that aspect of our city economy? Im sure the downtown BIA and local businesses would suggest your ward 2 isolationism is not the best idea. With this “me first” thinking, what’s next? Red ball caps with Make Ward 2 Great Again? Downtown belongs to everybody and its economic well-being depends on that. We may choose to agree or disagree with Clr. Stolte but she is a Burlington City Councillor and last time I looked, her ward was in Burlington too.

  • Alfred


    European Cities and road designs are the last thing in the world we would want to copy right now. These high density zones are getting clobbered by Corona.

  • I’ve gone for a few walks around where I live off Maple Ave. At no time did I have an issue with people too close. Everyone was being very respectful and social distancing. The fact that this councillor is using covid19 to advance the agenda of the cycling committee is shameful. There are a lot of more important things to do right now, and closing lanes on roads is not one of them. It is not necessary. .

  • Stephen White

    I can think of a million things we need right now, not the least of which is helping local businesses and industries recover from the shutdown and the financial losses they have inccurred. Expanding sidewalks is the least of our worries. Hell…the City can’t even properly maintain the ones we have now!

    If Burlington doesn’t come up with a plan, and quickly, to re-start small businesses and assist owners we won’t have to worry about expanding sidewalks… or roads, or pretty much anything else because our tax base will be so eroded they’ll just fall into a worse state of disrepair.

    Let’s focus on the big picture items and leave these niche issues such as bike lanes and sidewalks for another day and another time. We have more important priorities to deal with now.

    • Stephen White

      Hi David: What the pandemic has highlighted is the difference between introverts and extroverts. Introverts, who tend to be more self-motivated, will adapt quickly and move to a digital economy easily. Extroverts, who are more people centric, aren’t quite so enthusiastic.

      Fundamentally, people are social creatures. We crave interaction with others. Work isn’t just work, but it provides a whole host of other benefits besides just earning a living (i.e. social status, friendships, support, etc.). Want proof? Just look at what happens to so many people who retire, and are lost. Many volunteer, go back to work, etc. because of that need for human interaction.

      So yes, the digital economy may grow, but not exponentially. When the restrictions are lifted people will rush out to reconnect with others. And I’ll bet there are a lot of folks out there who are just chomping to get out of their houses and return to some form of regularity…in an office!

  • David

    I was hoping city council and staff were being laid off….It would give the taxpayers a financial break from this kind of reasoning. I suppose they’re all still on the Burlington gravy train.

  • Penny Hersh

    CHECK OUT the virtual YMCA program –

    We are here for you.
    Welcome to your Virtual YMCA; an online community connecting you with free health, wellness and resources to support you and your entire family.

  • Steve

    It’s simply not possible to widen many sidewalks since you’d have to acquire private land or chop down old growth trees to do it. The cost would be huge to taxpayers. Why not simply make the sidewalks directional like the road is? Temporarily, of course.

    • Eve St Clair

      I think the Councillor wants to close roadways and then they become “sidewalks” not in the physical sense but void of vehicles

  • Penny Hersh

    Should have added – let’s be proactive rather than reactive and do this before we are mandated by the Province. It is coming….it is just a matter of time.

  • Penny Hersh

    How about asking residents to wear a fabric mask when outside? This is a simple and inexpensive way to protect residents and frontline healthcare workers.

  • Claudette Mancini

    I ride a three-wheeler tricycle. The narrow dedicated part of some roads are simply not wide enough to safely ride this trike, and I’m not supposed to drive it one a sidewalk (but I do when I can, and move to the grass is a walker appears). Widening those sidewalks is an excellent idea! Room for walkers, and room for bikes (and trikes, too!) Go for it!

  • Phillip Wooster

    I consider this to be another virtue-signalling initiative for an increasingly out-of-touch councillor (by the way, I voted for her, a decision which I deeply regret). Where is the demonstrated need for this proposal? I live in South Burlington close to Spruce–I see many people out walking, I see cyclists on Spruce–all practising social distancing. What I don’t see are crowds of people who are unable to socially distance.

    Secondly, I note that she calls this a “pilot project”–really?!?!? The last pilot project was the Tree Bylaw in Roseland which was to run until the end of 2020 at which point the results were to be analyzed before further initiatives undertaken. What happened? This Mayor and Council didn’t wait to complete the pilot–totally disregarded it and just enacted the bylaw city wide–another virtue-signalling initiative without any demonstrated need. And we are to believe this is a pilot project?

    • Phillip Wooster

      All the social engineers want to make Burlington “less car friendly”. But all the top-down, big government advocates for these solutions will fail. Why? It ignores the actual users (you know taxpayers and residents, increasingly marginalized by this mayor and council). These users are interested in two things–time efficiency and convenience, and in a commuter town like Burlington, it’s doubly important because people are time poor. Find a solution that is more convenient and more time efficient than the automobile and residents will buy in–good luck!

      • Phillip Wooster

        I would not equate what happens in major urban areas to the needs of a suburban area. It is particularly misleading to use European cities as your template. When I’m in London England, I use public transit, particularly the Underground, to move around the City–it’s fast and convenient. Given that the layout of these cities were not designed for the modern motor vehicle, giving areas over to pedestrian traffic only in certain areas which warrant it is a good idea.

        Now if we look at Burlington, the public transit infrastructure by comparison is very poor. We can neither move quickly nor conveniently around Burlington on our bus system. For me to take the bus from my home in south Burlington to the Burlington Centre requires at least a 45-minute commitment, including a lot of walking; it’s about 8 minutes by car. And it’s the same for most residents. People don’t walk in this city to go shopping, they walk for recreation. And shutting downtown to vehicle traffic–as they cram more condos into downtown, how do you think those people are going to shop for groceries? How are they going to get to work?

  • Perryb

    Closing Brant St. from Lakeshore to Caroline would be a good start. Make room for all the people who are going to live in the towers metastising in the downtown. Mind you, no one could get there since there is no parking, but maybe the transit plan would solve this, if there was one.