Mean Streets of Bay Roberts (About a year before some work in this area began)

Where are the sidewalks? Are they at the same place as the school crossings? As The street lights? Bicycle lanes? (Ha Bicycles!)

A national report came out last year saying that Newfoundlanders and Labradorians were the fattest, most out of shape people in the country. It is not difficult to see why. As a rotund individual myself I can tell you that walking with the traffic, instead of alongside it, especially in winter, is no picnic. The shoulders are simply sand which turn to mud, which becomes frozen mud and slush, all alongside a slippery four lane highway.

And a highway is exactly what it is. The Conception Bay Highway. It is written right into the name. Someone suggested to me years ago that we do not have sidewalks because the CBH is under provincial jurisdiction. Really? Then why hasn’t our municipal council asked our provincial government to do something about it? Why haven’t they put it to Pam Parsons to get the funds we pay, when we fritter away our money on luxuries like school books for those spoiled kiddies? Can’t we jack up cigarettes more until we can pay for the walkways that the resultantly healthy and broke population will be striding over with their baby strollers and EKG Watches?

No. I moved here in the nineties from the frozen wilds of Labrador. I pulled off my wolf-skin coat, replaced my bearskin shoes with polyester ones and embraced civilization at last. Except that we had sidewalks in Labrador City and Wabush. People walked, rode their bikes, jogged and we all took it for granted.

Surely if I could find a walkway in the Big Land I could find it here, but no. What I also have not found are very many children walking to school, bicycling anywhere, playing hockey by the street. No roller blades, skateboards, or scooters neither. Just a small gaggle of folks, carefully navigating around potholes, dodging tractor trailers and rush hour commutes, which are surprisingly large for such a small town. I never let my kids ride their bikes there and I bet many others do not either.

I confess my astonishment that we as a people will settle for so little. While Torontonians argue about separate lanes for pedestrians and motor less- transport; we obligingly hop into our gas guzzlers; to get the loaf of bread at the gas-bar that we meant to get at the grocery store earlier that day. We are a province of commuters.

Well I have had enough. This short overweight man demands a sidewalk to use as I move my considerable self from home to office. I want a crosswalk to share with school kids; as I cross the lanes of blinkered traffic; populated by people who have enough sense to stop, I hope. I want a spot for those who don’t own a car, and for those who just like walking. I want to show myself and for us to show Canadians that we can get out of the house. More than that, we want too.