The colourful and vibrant Nagar Kirtan procession is an annual cultural highlight in Abbotsford, but it also creates a problem for residents living inside the parade’s rectangular route, according to one local senior.
“The parade is fine,” said Teddy Miller, 83. “But every year we’re stuck in our homes.”
City officials told Miller that while she’ll be able to get to church Sunday morning, the only route back into her neighbourhood will be blocked for upwards of two hours, between noon and 2 p.m.
And while the city has asked residents to “preplan” in order to get to appointments or church during the road closures, Miller said there are no good options for her and her neighbours.
Miller’s 80-year-old husband has leukemia. Just going to church is exhausting for him and he requires a nap afterwards. And walking 20 minutes from the other side of the parade route is impractical.
Miller said her neighbours are also annoyed.
“There are a lot of older people who all complain,” she said. “Why can’t the route be somewhere where people have a way to get out?”
The City of Abbotsford suggests that residents park their vehicles outside the route prior to the parade, but Miller dismissed the idea as unsafe.
“I wouldn’t leave my car on the road at night,” she said. “That is no alternative.”
City spokesperson Katherine Treloar says the road closures are consistent with other events, like Canada Day and Run for Water.
While the city has advised of road closures between 9 a.m. and 5 p.m., traffic will be allowed through the route when the procession is not “active” in the area, according to Treloar. The route will be shut down in segments for about two hours while the parade is underway, although emergency vehicles will be able to access the blocked-off areas.
Asked by email if the city had undertaken initiatives to alleviate residents’ concerns, Treloar replied: “Notices about the procession have been posted along the route, in the surrounding neighbourhoods, in local newspapers, and all residents along the route received a mailed invitation to participate in the celebrations along with information about road closures and the ability to access their area by vehicle. Concerned residents can also contact the City or the Gurdwara Sahib Kalgidhar Darbar directly.”
While questions about the availability of other routes were directed to the Gurdwara Sahib Kalgidhar, which organizes the parade, its president, Brar Gurmail Singh, said the route was assigned by the city.