VERNON - The City of Vernon will be improving its consultation process after a local business only found out about a road work project days before construction was set to start.
The city will still be going ahead with the road work on 32 Avenue, which was discussed at length earlier this week, but as Coun. Juliette Cunningham says, lessons have been learned.
“I think we’ve learned something from this. As long as we reassure the public that moving forward we will be very diligent and make sure consultations are clear with businesses, and we ensure they have comprehensive list of who’s impacted, because somewhere along the line one dropped off here,” Cunningham said at a special meeting of council today, April 15.
A majority of council voted to proceed with the road work for April 18 after putting the brakes on it earlier this week. Infrastructure management manager Mark Dowhaniuk told council measures will be taken to reduce the impact on affected businesses, including access for delivery trucks, additional signage and advertisements to promote ongoing patronage of the stores. Downhaniuk also said that moving forward, staff will be making changes to their public consultation strategy for road work projects.
“Coming away from the learnings from this project, our consultation process for capital works will be refined, giving more definition to the timing on consultation,” Dowhaniuk said.
Coun. Scott Anderson voted against starting the project this month on the grounds it will have negative impacts on Briteland Holdings during the store's busiest time of the year. Briteland did not receive notification of the project start date until mere days before work was set to start and Anderson believes the business was not fairly consulted.
“I think there were mistakes made and I think we have to take responsibility for these mistakes,” Anderson said.
He said even with signage and promotions, customers will "take the path of least resistance." He urged council to delay the project until July, which staff said would cost an extra $73,000, to show support for the business community.
Coun. Brian Quiring has asked staff to prepare a detailed traffic management plan for the construction area due to concerns he has about school busses and traffic. Beairsto Elementary School is located within the area affected by the road work.
“I think it’s going to become very busy there,” he said.
No one from Briteland was available for comment.
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