In my monthly newsletters I try to write about topics that I hope you will find interesting. However that is not set in stone. This month I chose to write about a hard subject: concrete.
There is little that remains from the early days of Calgary. On a recent walk, I was surprised to see a concrete sidewalk in the Beltline with a date-stamp that read ’1907’. Despite being over 100 years old and embossed with large dog prints - what drew my attention in the first place - the sidewalk was in outstanding condition. I wondered how this sidewalk could be in great shape when I often see new sidewalks (under five years) showing significant cracks and chips. I also noticed significant damage to public property around new developments. I started to do some digging around City Hall to find answers.
I now know more about concrete than I ever thought possible (segregation of aggregates, bleeding, scaling, spalling…). I discovered that concrete sidewalks in Calgary should have a lifespan of 50 years. Although our weather contributes to wear and tear, the durability of the sidewalk can be compromised by the quality of the mix or faulty installation.
After speaking with City staff I also discovered the extent to which in-fill construction practices can cause damage to sidewalks and other public property like laneways. This type of damage is becoming more common and is costing the City millions of dollars in annual repairs. In order to extend the life of our sidewalks and alleyways, and reduce the need for costly repairs, I asked City Administration to explore solutions to:
• Improve inspections to identify and repair problem concrete while under warranty.
• Enhance pre and post-construction inspections for infill development to ensure that the contractor covers the cost of damages to public property.
• Coordinate the various departments and budgets used for the repair of sidewalks to maximize efficiency, improve reporting, and reduce costs.
The City of Calgary should expect a quality product from our suppliers and contractors. If you provide the City with substandard products, you will repair problem areas while it’s under warranty. To infill developers, if you damage public property, you will pay to have it repaired. Doing so will help ensure that our city is well maintained and Calgarians are getting value.
On a quainter note, in the last few years, the City has been making efforts to save old sidewalk stamps during lifecycle sidewalk replacement. The heritage fragment is re-installed in the new sidewalk (I put in a word to save the old dog prints). Look for street stamps when out for a stroll in Calgary’s oldest neighbourhoods.
This content represents the personal views and opinions of the Ward Councillor and should not be taken as a statement of policy of The City of Calgary. The inclusion of any external content does not imply endorsement by The City of Calgary.