Just ignore the streets
In the furious discussion about the city’s new libraries – including here in Aylmer – and, now, amid upset voices about traffic-calming measures, another question is drowned out: the state of the streets themselves.
One letter-writer to the Bulletin suggested earlier this spring that the city is using potholes as a traffic-calming measure – and it seemed to be working! That author claimed he could tell the state of any street’s surface just by the speed of vehicles upon it. However, it must be said, he had his tongue in his cheek; this was not a commendation of public works nor of the present administration’s budgeting priorities.
He was certainly right. Gatineau is destined to become a record-holder in the CAA magazine’s annual “most potholes” competition, and within that honour, Aylmer sector seems to be going for the record all on its own.
But that was potholes . . . and potholes, we’re told, are only a measure of the winter and spring’s severity, with the pavement all repaired and ready to go once the frost has passed. Wait a minute! It’s almost July and the potholes are still with us! Turn off Eardley onto Front, going south . . . suspension destroyer-alert! Obviously the current mayor and city manager(s) rarely drive in Aylmer.
All year long, Aylmer letter-writers complain about traffic congestion (compounded by narrow boulevards and rough street surfaces), and getting Lucerne/Lower Road resurfaced this year was a glorious event (for the spines of commuters). Congestion is yet another issue around traffic and streets, since the city’s project-building permits seem to be approved without consideration of traffic flow or, to be exact, non-flow.
But at the base of all these questions remains the actual surface of the streets. They’re terrible. And the question is “Why?”
Yes, point to Montreal, home of the world’s worst streets, but all that tells us is that basic priorities are misplaced across our province. It doesn’t tell us why Aylmer, in particular, suffers such awful pavement condition. At the time of forced amalgamation, we were told Aylmer would have better public works, not fewer, because the larger city would have more resources, more equipment, personnel, and funds at its command than would a much smaller city like Aylmer. For this we gave up our newer equipment, and our control over our own budgets. And are we getting better streets, as promised?
It’s enlightening to take a drive out to “the sticks” . . . leave our exciting metropolis for any of the small towns that surround Gatineau like its halo. In winter, their streets are snow-cleared before 7am, all of them. And wide -- the plowing doesn’t build up banks which narrow streets to a single lane, as in much of residential Aylmer.
In the summer this same trip brings a similar surprise: relatively well maintained pavement. Street signs. Stop signs. Traffic calming. Smooth pavement.
You, dear commuter, ought to decide the conclusion to this editorial.