When I first heard of Sidney Gateway, I assumed that it would be an actual gateway, a dedicated pedestrian and bicycle overpass connecting Beacon Avenue across the highway. Then I discovered, surprisingly, that it was a commercial development plan that would take away precious open green space, with no thought to the overreaching problem of accessibility, walkability, air pollution, traffic congestion, and retail pressure.
If this plan is approved, we will see huge increases in traffic volume and an increase in air pollution, and lack of safe accessibility to both sides of the highway for cyclists and pedestrians. Already that interchange is showing signs of big city stress. Add to that a constant flow of shoppers, delivery trucks and worker vehicles required for the new retail shops, and we will join the group of communities that have erred on the side of increased development.
A case in point to the safe accessibility issue is my recent witnessing of a detached semi going over 120 km/hr through the Beacon interchange. This is startling in juxtaposition to the family I saw crossing the highway by foot later that day – a father with baby in stroller, young boy on a push bike, and his little daughter who, sippy drink in hand, wanted to skip across the highway intersection.
What are our priorities as a community? Negative progress: increased traffic congestion, safety concerns and air pollution? Or positive progress: increased walkability/accessibility, localized retail, and retention of the community we have now. If, truly, the VAA needs a cash infusion from this deal, I for one would gladly pay more airport fees in order to retain our community as it is, replete with local shops, open space, pastures, clear air, and safe pedestrian/bike paths.