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Railriled: Residents say new waterfront railing an accident waiting to happen

Published on

George Mathewson

The new and improved shoreline that rims the water plant in Sarnia is getting a thumbs-up from walkers, cyclists and anglers – with one glaring exception.

The waterfront walkway features an ankle-high railing that’s a potential tripping hazard and seems to serve no useful purpose, users say.

“I think it’s a lawsuit waiting to happen, especially for people walking down here at night,” said Lorraine Morrill, an Oshawa resident who visits the site regularly to photograph Great Lakes ships.

The Journal found most users like the project’s overall redesign but are perplexed by the tubular rail that separates the asphalt walk from new armour stone steps into the water.

“I think somebody screwed up,” said Sarnia’s Alex Boyle, who was fishing for trout. “They read four inches (high) in the blueprints when they actually meant four feet. Somebody is going to get hurt here.”

Concrete blocks had protected the shoreline where Lake Huron enters the St. Clair River. But they were undercut by erosion and tipping, a problem exacerbated when the remains of Hurricane Sandy battered the area in October of 2012.

The $600,000 plus upgrade was jointly paid for by Ontario and the Lambton Area Water Supply System, which is owned by six area municipalities including Sarnia, Point Edward and St. Clair Township.

Jogger Courtney Rondeau said she appreciates the flatter running surface but questioned the need for the railing, which stands about eight inches off the ground.

“I’m sure they put it there for a purpose, but I don’t really get it,” the Sarnia woman said.

LAWSS manager Susan MacFarlane said the railing was added as a safety feature to prevent a snow-clearing plow in the winter from toppling into the lake.

It’s also meant to keep people on the asphalt walkway, she said.

“We have the path and then we have the shoreline protection next to path, and we really want people to stay on the path.”

MacFarlane acknowledged not everyone is happy with the railing.

“We have heard the complaints, and I’ve asked the St. Clair Region Conservation Authority to give some options of how we can address them,” she said, adding it’s too early to know what those options might be.

The new armour stone extends from the public washrooms on LAWSS property to the lighthouse at the foot of Fort Street, and is similar to that of the adjacent shoreline protection at the Blue Water Bridge.

Sarnia’s Wayne Begarnie was exploring the improvements with his great grandson, Mylo, 2.

“I like it,” he said. “But I have no idea why they had to put this railing here. It’s a tripping hazard, especially for older people.”







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