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Resident fighting holes in the process

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Paul Christensen said degrees of deterioration of back lanes in his area vary from street to street.

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Paul Christensen said degrees of deterioration of back lanes in his area vary from street to street. Photo Store

Paul Christensen wants to find a long-term plan to pave the city’s crumbling gravel back lanes.

The Norwood Flats resident told The Lance the City of Winnipeg’s existing improvement process "does not effectively provide a remedy to pave our rapidly-deteriorating gravel back lanes.

"The existing process is cost-prohibitive to many residents and the only way to get a gravel back lane paved is if 60% of the residents who live on either side of a lane agree to a tax levy, so there is a flaw in the system," said Christensen, 52, who works for Manitoba Hydro as a process improvement advisor.

"At the end of the day, I have no problem getting it done and paying the $9,000, but some residents can’t afford this or are less interested, which I understand.

"Depending on where you live, your approach might be in the front, so you might not see the value."

To help raise awareness of the issue in his community, Christensen recently launched a website called Winnipeg Gravel Back Lane Forum. He also pounded the pavement last summer to canvass residents of his neighbourhood and garnered the support of more than 300 homeowners.

On Sept. 12, a community forum was held to give residents a chance to voice their concerns to Coun. Dan Vandal (St. Boniface). Christensen said Vandal made a commitment to find both short-term solutions and a long-term plan.

"Paying to have the back lanes gravelled again is just throwing good money after bad and takes us right back to where we started," Christensen said, adding the city should seek a partnership with the province and residents to seek an affordable paving solution.

"My goal is to create a large-enough voice that city hall will change the process to become a fairer process. I want to encourage residents to create a dialogue on their blocks," he said.

Christensen said the degree of deterioration varies depending on the lane in his area and he eventually wants to expand his canvassing area, when time permits, to other communities, such as Charleswood, Fort Richmond and East Kildonan.

Also on Sept. 12, Vandal and Coun. Brian Mayes (St. Vital) released a joint press release calling for a doubling of city expenditures in next year’s city budget on gravel back lane maintenance.

The release states the city spent $170,000 on granular (gravel) lane maintenance in 2012 and is expected to spend the same amount this year. The city spends an additional $1 million a year to overhaul some of the worst gravel back lanes, which consists of upgrading drainage and installing new gravel, it states.

On Oct. 25, the city announced council is set to examine the current the current granular roadway policy, which was last amended 25 years ago and did not address best practices, officials say. At press time, a report was scheduled to go before a city committee on Oct. 29.   
To learn more about Christensen’s campaign, visit www.winnipeggravelbacklanes.com

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