As much as it appears that winter does not want to give way to spring, it is that time of year when you’ll begin to see City crews and contractors commencing our capital works program for 2018. And, as a result of the financial restructuring Council undertook at the beginning of this term and our continued success at attracting grant funding, once again we have a number of big projects lined up for this year.
Quite soon you’ll see city crews begin to remove the juniper bushes along the highway as you come into the City from the south. These junipers line the Riverfront Trail as it runs alongside Dunrovin Lodge and they have been showing increasing signs of decay, becoming more brown than green as a result. But, that’s not the only reason they’re being removed.
Last year, we were successful in obtaining a Bike BC grant to build a connector trail from where the Riverfront Trail ends at the Rotary ball diamond to the new arena plaza. Part of this project will see us reduce the slope of the current trail as it runs alongside Dunrovin to make that part of the trail more accessible for people with mobility issues. Once this project is completed both sides of the new trail will be re-landscaped.
The Visitor Centre parking lot will also see a significant change with the removal of the circular flower bed in the middle of the parking lot. The Billy Barker statue has already been placed at the entrance to the Visitor Centre where it can be more easily seen by tourists. A new annuals flower bed will be created around the statue, making the whole entrance more attractive and enticing for tourists.
The biggest enticement for more tourists to stop at the Visitor Centre, however, will be that the new parking lot configuration will be RV friendly because we’ll be able to create drive through RV parking spots at the Visitor Centre as a result of the removal of the circular flower bed. One of the biggest complaints we hear from tourists is that our community is not RV friendly; this project is one of a number we’re undertaking to address this concern.
The biggest capital project for this year is, of course, the $6.1 million investment in Reid Street. This is not a ‘nice to do’ project, it is a must do, as we need to replace the water main under the 200, 300, and 400 blocks of Reid Street before that water main, installed in the early 1950s, fails. City staff and Council have engaged in multiple consultations with the affected businesses and the general public on this project and the outcome of those discussions will be evident in the final product with an enhanced pedestrian experience and a beautiful retail space that will attract residents and tourists alike to our downtown core.
The Reid Street project will commence as early as the end of this month and traffic flows in that area will be disrupted throughout the summer. However, the intent is to maintain access to all of the businesses on Reid Street as much as possible throughout the project. The Downtown Business Association, the City, and the contractor will be communicating regularly and will be coordinating communications with the public. It is our sincere hope that this project will proceed smoothly and with as little disruption to the businesses on Reid Street as possible. You can help these businesses through this challenging time by continuing to shop at their stores throughout the project.