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Utility pole and skinny partner hog Bayview Ave. sidewalk: The Fixer

Nobody likes to be pushed around, but it’s even worse when a fat utility pole and its skinny sidekick are the pushers.

Our April 19 column about a Bell utility box that hogged too much sidewalk space caught the eye of Heather Cassels, who fears losing an eye due to a similar pedestrian squeeze.

She often walks along the west side of Bayview Ave. near Post Rd., where she said a new utility pole was installed about two years ago, while the old one was left in place.

Since then, a new sidewalk was constructed around both poles, said Cassels, which has her wondering why they first didn’t get rid of the old pole and find a better place for the new one.

The old pole finally disappeared — a miracle, given Toronto Hydro’s oh-so-slow removal of decommissioned poles — but she said it did not result in any increase in pedestrian space.

“At this particular spot the sidewalk is not much more than a foot wide,” she said, adding, “one can easily twist an ankle, a stroller or bike or wheelchair can topple over.

“To add to the danger is a huge hedge from an empty home that is too tall and too close to the road. It is a fast-growing hedge, ready to poke your eye out as you try to maneuver past the poles.”

We went there and found a large utility pole occupying about half the sidewalk, right next to a newly installed crosswalk. It is assisted in impeding pedestrians by a two-metre-high metal pipe that further reduces sidewalk space and appears to serve no purpose other than getting in the way.

The hedge bordering the unoccupied property next to the sidewalk is just springing to life; if it isn’t trimmed regularly, someone could indeed get a poke in the eye while dodging the poles.

City accessibility guidelines call for at least 1.7 metres of clear sidewalk space to ensure clearance for people who use wheelchairs or motorized scooters to get around.

STATUS: Carly Hinks, who is in charge of right-of-way management in North York, called to say transportation staff were planning an on-site meeting with Toronto Hydro officials on Friday to determine what the pipe is for, as well as “trying to fix the area generally.” The pipe likely belongs to a “third-party” utility that had attachments to the old pole, she said, stressing that “in the city’s opinion, the pipe has to go.” The city is also looking at ways to widen the sidewalk, said Hinks, since it might not be practical to move the pole. She added that the pole problem is “on the radar” for Hydro, which confirms an email we got from spokesperson Tori Gass, who said the utility is also looking into ways to improve the situation.