By Samantha Reed 
BELLEVILLE – As cars fly by her in the morning rush, Pat DaSilva stands patiently on the sidewalk, waiting for an opening to cross. Lately, she’s been finding one.
This week, a crosswalk was activated in front of the retirement residence Amica at Quinte Gardens , located on College Street West.
“It’s so much better having the crosswalk. The cars are even coming up slower from that hill, and residents don’t have to worry about crossing safely,” DaSilva said.
DaSilva is the president of the resident council at Quinte Gardens. She was one of the residents who fought to get a crosswalk installed in front of the retirement home. Many residents need walkers and wheelchairs to move around and cannot make it to the crosswalk on North Front Street, she said.
“Residents cross in the middle of the road, and sometimes they don’t even look left or right and just go. I’m afraid one of these days they will get cleaned up.”
Amica resident Margaret O’Neil, who worked alongside DaSilva to get the crosswalk installed, said many wanted a crosswalk to create a safer way for them to get to amenities across the road.
“They’re using it to get across to the post office. With Christmas coming, mailing parcels and cards, the seniors really need it,” she said.
The residents had been asking city council to install a crosswalk for eight years. DaSilva personally had been advocating for a crosswalk for two years.
It wasn’t an easy process, she said. The residents’ council went to city council in June asking for a crosswalk and it was approved during the meeting. But weeks later, Police Chief Cory MacKay told council that a crosswalk outside of the retirement residence would be dangerous.
Belleville Police then held a presentation  at Quinte Gardens to explain to residents why they thought a crosswalk at that location would be unsafe. MacKay told residents the concerns included the amount of traffic, reduced visibility due to the hill and the bright glare on the road at sunset and sunrise. Officers urged council and Amica residents to look into other options, such as shuttle services or bringing amenities into the retirement residence.
Throughout the past few months, the crosswalk was a topic of discussion at city council. Councillors Mike Graham and Jack Miller were not in favour of the crosswalk. Councillors Jackie Deynes and Garnet Thompson declared conflicts of interest because of connections to people living at Quinte Gardens, and did not vote. In the end, the approval of the crosswalk passed 4-3.
Throughout all of the discussion, DaSilva said, she never felt discouraged.
“Oh no, I wasn’t. Because council had another meeting after (the police came) and it was voted again and at that time it was much more well-received,” she said.
O’Neil said the crosswalk was the best solution.
“Nothing (is) 100 per cent safe. We don’t look at it as going to be completely safe. It is, however, 100 per cent better than what we had,” she said.