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New paving prompts urge to dance in street

Joyce Walter writes about the end of a construction project near her home
Reflective Moments by Joyce Walter

There was a neighbourhood urge to dance in the street the other day as crews finished the final strip of paving on our block and ended nearly two months of water main replacement disturbance.

This euphoria wasn’t so much related to the fact our water mains and other connections were now brand new but to the fact we could once again park in our driveways or in front of our homes — who would ever think how closely we had become attached to those pieces of concrete until they were no longer available to our vehicles.

Our block was not the first to be part of the city’s replacement program but not until that first hole was dug did we accept that we would be in turmoil over a period of weeks and months.

After winter snow had melted and COVID-19 had shut down the city, the schedule of this year’s water main project was revealed on April 8 and I read with dismay that our avenue, from Oxford to MacDonald would be included in this year’s Phase Five. Missing in the schedule was a starting date. Missing in the schedule was a finishing date. Tenders were extended to April 16.

Because there is a school in our neighborhood, the suspicion was that work on this street would be done in the early days of the phase, maybe late May or June, July or at the latest, early August. The thought process was that school was out during those months and wouldn’t it make sense to have the work finished so back-to-school would not be disrupted by detours and large equipment.

Alas, COVID-19 forced the cancellation of public information meetings, leaving residents to get details via websites and mailouts. Still we had questions: when will we have to move our cars off the street? No one who should have known did know. And so we waited through May, June, July and August, until finally on Aug. 31, the employees of the contractor began showing up to provide temporary water connections and to advise residents that we wouldn’t be charged for use of the water while those connections were in place — a bonus in the midst of construction frenzy.

paving phase 5 joyce photo
Oh happy days: paving crew hard at work during Phase Five

Those employees of NIS Contractors and sub-contractors very kindly answered all my questions and surely by the time they moved on to the next block likely dreaded the sight of me heading their way. I’m sure they said to themselves and each other: “Oh no, here comes that old lady again. Why doesn’t she just walk down the back alley instead of coming this way to ask questions?” But regardless of their private thoughts, they were congenial and politely listened to my questions and attempts to find out things from them.

At the outset the timeline offered by a very polite employee was that we should look at Thanksgiving as the end date for our block. He didn’t specify Canadian or the United States Thanksgiving so when ours came and went, it appeared that he meant the November date. But no, on Oct. 30 the “street closed” barricade on Oxford was changed to “local traffic only” and our cars made the trek up the avenue to our respective driveways and in-front-of-house parking.

No longer do we have to trudge two or three blocks to find our vehicles, then stand in confusion when the vehicle isn’t where we thought we had parked it. No, there it is over another block where that guy told me not to park, that I had taken his spot on what I replied was a very public street. 

He moved. I didn’t, then fumed when a spot closer to home opened up as I limped by with bags of stuff in my arms, purse over my shoulder and cane tapping on the uneven ground. I won the short-term battle but the parking game played on.

And so, the urge to dance in the street lingers, but as traffic becomes heavier I’ll just wiggle with excitement as I step out of the house and into my vehicle. Just imagine all the stories I will have to tell about Phase Five and all that free water!

(Continued next week)

Joyce Walter can be reached at

The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author, and do not necessarily reflect the position of this publication.  

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