April 16, 2013 - 7:15 PM
Kamloops city council was prepared to “get on with it” today and quickly approved the Highland Drive project and send it to tender before delays cause more safety issues.
Councillors were quick to accept the project but struggled with adding parking mid-way up the hill, which could encourage or promote activity on private land.
The roadway reconstruction will see the entire stretch of Highland Drive between Qu'apelle Boulevard and Valleyview Drive widened to include three lanes and a bike path.
Council first heard from concerned citizen Tony Brummel who wanted another open house before going ahead with the project. Brummel said having the open house in Valleyview was too far away from many residents who were not aware of the previous public house.
Coun. Ken Christian quickly addressed Brummel's concern with public open houses. He said it was “particularly well advertised, particularly well attended. It's certainly not strange to have it down there, it's where people from Juniper would go to vote.”
Council was not convinced with staff options for parking. The first two options gave potential safety issues with diminished sight-lines during parallel parking and the second two options were more costly and would need the city to buy land. The safest option offered an intersection with an off-street parking lot accessible from either direction that would fit several vehicles, but also offered up the biggest price tag at $300,000 plus the cost of land. This option would have required the city to secure land from a private landowner at an unknown cost.
Another big concern was the perception people may have that council would be promoting the use of walking trails on private land. The land is also sensitive and council should not be encouraging people to hurt those lands, Coun. Tina Lange pointed out.
Christian told council he was also concerned about the risk involved with delaying the project any longer as well as the potential increase in cost due to inflation.
“We're encouraging people to walk and cycle and the current configuration means it's unsafe for them to do that,” Christian said. “We need to get on and move to tender.”
Later in the meeting council approved the necessary loans for the project through an alternative approval process. The cost of the project is $5.9-million with just over $3.3-million to be borrowed.
The hope is to move the project to the tender process immediately and have construction start later this year.
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News from © InfoTel News Ltd, 2013