This is a reprise of a post from two years ago regarding the trail that connects the foot of Ray Blvd to Ravenwood Ave. New this year are signs at each entrance to the park that announce that this is a recreational trail and that there is "NO WINTER MAINTENANCE."
Two years ago I complained that it is adding insult to injury to use both ends of the trail to pile up snow that has been scraped from road, forcing pedestrians that use the trail to climb over the snow banks. Two years ago I assumed that this situation was a simple matter of neglect; that this park was just not on the radar. Now we know that this neglect is by design and that the local residents are not considered deserving of a cleared path to walk to work, school, shopping or other destinations.
As I also pointed out in the previous post, this is a vital link in the neighbourhood. The path is 245 metres long. Alternate routes, taking Oliver Rd to the north or Beverley St to the south, are much longer. Significantly longer than most people, with the means, access and ability to drive a car, willingly choose to walk.
Unfortunately, it was very overcast the day that I took the next two pictures of the park entrances. The light is very "flat" and it is difficult to see how well the trail has been packed. I chose to use these photos, instead of waiting for a brighter day, because they were taken the day after a large dump of snow that closed all schools and many businesses in the city. Yet, by the next day, enough people had slogged through the snow to create a relatively well packed trail. You can see at the East entrance that there are two paths over the snow bank and through the snow that converge at the trail. One from people walking up and down Ray Blvd and one from Duluth St commuters. During the time it took me to take these pictures, 4 other people used the trail to walk through the park in both directions. They were not walking a dog or out for a stroll; they were walking because this was the most efficient route to get where they were going. And they were fortunate to have the agility to take this route and not have a shopping cart or baby stroller with them.
I realize that the City of Thunder Bay does not have a bottomless bucket of money to spend clearing sidewalks and paths, but there are a few reasons that make the neglect of this path insulting and shameful:
- The recreation trail along Ford St and Parkway Dr, for example, is plowed even though these streets provide a low traffic route for those that need to walk or cycle somewhere. For much of Parkway Dr the road is plowed, the sidewalk is plowed AND the recreation trail is plowed. I agree that these paths should be cleared but how is this worth the money and the 245 m trail through Incinerator Park is not? How much money does it cost to plow the trails around Boulevard Lake? This trail should be cleared to accommodate the many users but, again, many commuters through Incinerator Park MUST use the trail as the only reasonable option to get where they need to go.
- The City has money to maintain the baseball diamonds in Incinerator Park. Some local residents use the baseball diamonds, but these facilities get the most use from people in softball leagues that drive to the park. (Because of the lack of bollards, they often drive right on the recreation trail and there are sometimes dozens of cars parked on the grass in the park.) The city also finds the money to provide garbage cans near the dugouts. These cans are not near the trail and so litter tends to accumulate near the entrances to the park. The City relies on volunteers during the "Spring Up to Clean Up" campaign to pick up this litter. If they needed to pay their own employees to pick it up, I bet they would install and maintain conveniently placed garbage cans. That's why they put the cans near the dugouts - because the City has accepted responsibility to maintain the facilities for the benefit of the baseball leagues.
- The City payed good money to buy and install signs that say that there is "NO WINTER MAINTENANCE" of the trail. A fact that is obvious to everyone!