Belleville built a $738,000 sidewalk to nowhere using $200k of federal COVID funding

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| Published , updated February 22, 2024

Summary: The City applied for and spent $200k of federal and provincial dollars that could have been used toimprove key infrastructure addressing health, educational, parks and climate change, but instead spent that plus $500k+ building a sidewalk that almost no one will use, leading to a closed business, that might have been paid for by future development such as Black Bear Ridge.

October 2020 – Ward 2 councillor posts update to local Facebook group

River Road Sidewalk Update:

During our upcoming 2021 Capital Budget discussions, the River Road sidewalk project will be brought forward for Council’s consideration. The project includes an installed curb along the west side, from #7 to #71, and a new 1.5m AODA-compliant width sidewalk installed adjacent to this curb. There will also be a series of catch basins installed to accommodate drainage so that road drainage does not run across the sidewalk.

Councillor Bill Sandison on Facebook

December 2020 – River Road Sidewalk Construction Project introduced in 2021 Capital Budget

Each year City sidewalks are inspected and their condition assessed and funding is allocated annually to repair and replace damaged sidewalk sections. A final list of repair and replacement locations will be prepared by Transportation and Operations Services Department.

In December 2020, the department proposed a new 575m concrete sidewalk, curb, storm sewer drain and half-road reconstruction along the west side of River Rd in Corbyville from Cannifton Road North up to the front of Corby Hall at 79 River Road, Corbyville, a wedding and special event venue that as of January 2024 is available for lease for $3,000 per month.

This project replaced 235m of the existing sidewalk with a new sidewalk in compliance with Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act (AODA) and extend it approximately 340m further north.

In addition, it would include:

  • Installation of a new storm sewer main due to drainage constraints
  • Road reconstruction on the west half of River Road to an urban standard with new concrete curb and gutter, new concrete sidewalk and new asphalt road surface to accommodate the existing and proposed sidewalk meeting AODA requirements

Its scheduled completion date was November 2023.


How many pedestrians walk that stretch of sidewalk?
Sidewalk condition
Half the road being replaced
Federal and provincial government contribution: $202,996
Sidewalk runs along the Corbyville Village, a Special Policy Area classified for future residential development
End of project at 79 River Rd


The project was approved in the 2021 Capital Budget. Transportation and Operation Services stated in the capital budget justification:

The existing sidewalk along the west side of River Road from Cannifton Road North northerly to 79 River Road is narrow and in very poor and unsafe condition and requires replacement. It is also below the grade (level) of the road. If it is to be reconstructed it must comply with AODA standards and should be raised so that runoff from the roadway does not run across it (and create a freezing problem in the winter months).

This project would have the sidewalk reconstructed to be AODA compliant and address drainage concerns. There is also a section where there is no sidewalk (across the front of 71 River Road). This project would also have a new sidewalk installed in this section so that the sidewalk would then be continuous along the west side of the road, however some road widening will be required to accomodate the new sidewalk construction.

A curb and catchbasins will be installed along the west side of the road; the curb to provide separation and safety for pedestrians (similiar to what was completed on Maitland Dr in 2019/2020) and catchbasins to collect the runoff so that water does not flow across the sidewalk

Partial funding of $400,000 approved

$400,000 was approved for the Sidewalk Repairs Program in the 2021 Capital Budget (2021-1.016), $275k of which came from taxes and $125k from the reserve fund. This funding would in part partially finance the River Rd sidewalk.

March 2022 – Signal Brewery put up for sale

Signal Brewery had been closed for months after it was put up for sale in March 2022 following the passing of owner and founder Richard Courneyea in December 2021. It was sold to Skelton Park Brewery in Kingston on November 13, 2023 for an undisclosed price. As of February 2024, the business is still “temporarily closed”:

February 2023 – project fully funded in 2023 Capital Budget

An additional $375,000 was approved in the 2023 Capital Budget (2023-1.017) to come from the Asset Mgmt / Stormwater taxation reserve fund for a total of around $775,000.

For comparison, the annual Sidewalk Repairs Program was allocated $250,000 in the 2022 Capital Budget (22-1.018) and $300,000 in 2023 to maintain the rest of Belleville’s sidewalks.

$200k from federal COVID-19 Resilience Stream

The City of Belleville received $202,996 in funding for this project through the Investing in Canada Infrastructure Program (ICIP)COVID Resilience Stream, 80% ($162,396.80) of which was from the Federal government and 20% ($40,559.20) from the Provincial government.

The Stream was designed to deliver more infrastructure projects during the pandemic by increasing the types of eligible projects and accelerating project approvals and timelines. The expanded program takes steps to address the current health crisis and support economic stability with existing funds and programs.

Eligible infrastructure projects

These funds came from a $3 billion funding stream made available to support repairs and upgrades to the following types of projects:

  • Retrofits, repairs and upgrades for municipal, territorial, provincial and Indigenous buildings, health infrastructure and schools;
  • COVID-19 response infrastructure, including measures to support physical distancing;
  • Active transportation infrastructure, including parks, trails, foot bridges, bike lanes and multi-use paths;
  • Disaster mitigation and adaptation projects, including natural infrastructure, flood and fire mitigation, and tree planting and related infrastructure; and
  • Ventilation improvements projects.

Funding requirements

The stream supports near-term, quick-start projects and projects must respect the following timeframes:

  • Construction must start no later than September 30, 2023; and,
  • Projects must be completed by December 31, 2023

August 2023 – City staff warn council that the sidewalk work could wait until the surrounding area is developed, sale of Signal Brewery could decrease pedestrian traffic

  • The replacement and extension of sidewalk in this area could potentially be completed as conditions of future development applications and approvals that may occur, particularly if River Road is selected as the preferred alignment for the extension of municipal services to Black Bear Ridge. The timeline for such developments is unknown.
  • 86 River Road (Signal Brewery) at the north end of this sidewalk extension is currently listed for sale. Pedestrian traffic on this sidewalk could decrease if this property use changes under new ownership.
Contract ENG2023-10 River Road Sidewalk Construction Project

Additional $75,000 added to 2023 Capital Budget

The 2023 Capital Budget was amended to increase Capital project item 23-1.017 River Road Sidewalk Construction by $75,000.00 to be funded through Asset Management Reserve Fund to accommodate construction cost increases experienced across the industry in 2023 with unit prices for items such as asphalt and pipe being approximately 10% to 20% higher than in previous years.


The bid by Earth-Crete Ontario Inc. was accepted for CONTRACT ENG2023-10 River Road Sidewalk Construction Project in the amount of $653,422.00 plus $84,944.86 HST for a total dollar amount of $738,366.86 this being the lowest tender received.

VendorBid AmountHSTTotal Bid AmountNet Cost to City
Earth-Crete Ontario Inc.$653,422.00$84,944.86$738,366.86$664,922.23
R.W. Tomlinson Limited$801,000.00$104,130.00$905,130.00$815,097.60
ROYAL CROWN CONSTRUCTION$809,690.26$105,259.73$914,949.99$823,940.81
809592 Ontario Inc. ola Parkside Landscaping &
K.MULRONNEY TRUCKING LTD$935,883.08$121,664.80$1,057,547.88$952,354.62

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Allison t

I will say that while it is not a Main Street, the sidewalk is used by many people, from families walking, to people walking their pets, to couples for walks, to kids riding bikes, etc And was in need of repair for years. It was a safety issue.

I also will say that the extend of money put into this project was a lot and I don’t agree with the cost of the project.

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