Editorial: Aesthetically displeasing safety issues

Recently, some modest improvements have been made in the Morrisburg Village Plaza in an attempt to clean up the visual aesthetic. The parking islands that divided Main Street from the north side parking lot had the trees removed, and landscaping rock added in its place. While this work did help with the visual appearance of the parking islands, it does not address the severe and long-term issues in the plaza.

The last major work to the plaza took place about four years ago when the canopy roof was replaced with new sheet metal. Even that work did not address the dilapidated state of the plaza that affects those who work or shop at Morrisburg’s “downtown.” There are many issues that need addressing. The most serious of these are the sidewalks. The sidewalks are heaving in many places. For able-bodied pedestrians, those challenges can be easily handled. For those with mobility issues, and for everyone during inclement weather, the uneven sidewalks are dangerous.

While the modest improvements made this fall to the parking islands did improve the aesthetic, they did not address long standing issues with those islands. The concrete is cracked and in many places has heaved. For vehicles that park near those islands, there is frequent damage to the underside of doors due to hitting the lifted sections. There is also a concern about the trees that were removed. The idea when those trees were planted was to give the Main Street a tree-lined corridor. Now here is just rock. Rock is low maintenance at least.

Major safety issues remain with the main parking lot. South Dundas did repave a section of the lot to deal with the minefield of potholes where the asphalt had failed. No lines were painted in the parking lot this year. Faded paint has led to vehicles parking mostly wherever the drivers want, at whatever angle they want – a parking free-for-all.

It has been over five years since then-CAO Shannon Geraghty told South Dundas council that the dilapidated clock tower in the centre promenade of the plaza was in need of urgent repair and/or replacement. In 2020, it was reported that work to place a washroom in the base of a reconstructed clock tower was paused for “two-to-three years” while the municipality investigated the underground infrastructure. Work on converting a portion of the BIA office into an accessible public washroom also has not progressed.

It is clear to any user of the plaza, that little work has been done to address the real and serious issues concerning the Morrisburg Village Plaza. Given the municipally-owned nature of the canopy, sidewalks and parking areas, there is a need to address the safety issues and come up with a solid plan to deal with the deficiencies. Making superficial improvements like replacing trees with rock in traffic islands does nothing to make the plaza a safe and welcoming business area in Morrisburg.

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