Cumberland County Warden Keith Hunter thinks it is needed, but the county has no interest in paying for it. Cumberland North MLA Brian Skabar thinks it’s a great idea, but admits the province isn’t likely to pony up the dollars for it either.
What they are talking about is a sidewalk from the Town of Amherst to the Cumberland Regional Health Care Centre, which sits within walking distance to town limits but has no infrastructure in place for those who choose to make the trip on foot. Regardless, there are many who do walk to the hospital, navigating on a thin shoulder of road and crossing busy highway on an off ramps in the process.
As Amherst Mayor Rob Small pointed out, not everyone can afford to call a taxi every time they need to go to the hospital, and don’t have always access to free transportation when they need it. Even if they did, however, walking to the hospital should be not only a safe option for Cumberland County residents, but should be encouraged from a physical fitness perspective.
The warden is correct that this sidewalk would offer more benefits to Amherst than it would the county, but that does not it mean it would not see use from county residents. There are many who come to the hospital from outlying county communities and would appreciate the chance to walk to town for a little shopping or a bite to eat. It would also benefit many of those who work in the county, as it would give hospital staff the option of walking to work.
That being said, the cost of providing this service could be higher than some might think. Crossing the highway ramps would involve more than just painting crosswalks.
There is enough interest here to look into the costs, and the municipalities and the province should have enough goodwill to consider a funding partnership.