The Greenbank Pathway – Paved With Bumpy, Uneven, Deteriorating intentions

By Wilson Lo, Barrhaven East Councillor

Already built to an older standard, the pathway on the west side of Greenbank Road through the Greenbelt has fallen into a sorry state.

We recognised it and began the process of renewing and modernising the pathway. Funding was allocated for the design in 2023 and construction this year.

Last year, ongoing negotiations with the Canada Food Inspection Agency (CFIA) over whether the city will continue leasing or buy the strip of land outright delayed the entire process by a year. At that point, our plans shifted to design work in 2024 and construction in 2025.

Earlier this year we settled the lease renewal, so that good news meant we could proceed towards improving the important pathway for our residents.

Not so fast.

We also learned the CFIA’s laboratory expansion and improvement project involved a new power substation and power lines adjacent to the pathway, with construction anticipated “within the next five years.”

Since Hydro Ottawa will do the work, the city will be financially responsible for repairs caused by construction damage or cuts. Understandably, with the big unknown of that impact, the city has paused the project.

The obvious fact is the pathway is in dire need of its upgrades. With each passing winter, its condition deteriorates, and more asphalt delaminates into the ditches. Additionally, there being up to five years before the CFIA’s work begins means future construction work may impact a four-or-five-year-old pathway. It’s not as if crews are cutting into a brand-new pathway.

But that’s where I’m conflicted. The “up to” five years means it can very well be much less than five years (yes, I know federal project timelines can be quite loose), and I don’t want a new pathway to be damaged or cut into.

Along with Councillors Devine and Hill, we know we can’t string along our residents for multiple years with unknowns. The three of us have great interest in seeing the pathway renewed and made safe for cyclists and pedestrians.

We will soon be meeting with MP Chandra Arya to advocate for the pathway by asking for more clarity on the CFIA project, timelines, and an arrangement or agreement that works for everyone.

Personally, I’m leaning towards pushing ahead with the project, but the worry about damaging or cutting into the pathway within one or two years, then being financially responsible for those repairs, is very real.

Hopefully, the meeting with the MP Arya will produce definitive information so we and city staff can put a proper plan into motion.

We are also considering asking city staff to push ahead with the design work to move the project along while we sort out the background noise about construction.

The condition of the pathway is shameful, and there’s no denying it needs improvement. I’m just hoping it’s sooner rather than later…and later, and later.