March 13, 2013 - 10:50 AM
By Charlotte Helston
The final phase of the 30th Avenue Revitalization project will get in gear this month after engineering staff managed to steer around a financial obstacle.
After the budget rose by $267,000, several city councillors refused to give the project a green light until staff came up with a new way to find the extra cash.
At a special meeting of council Wednesday morning, the city's infrastructure engineer Mark Dowhaniuk presented a financial plan which involved using the budgets of two other city projects as cushioning.
"These projects aren't deleted, we're just holding off on the construction until we know the status of our expenditures," Dowhaniuk told InfoTel News.
One of the projects would improve an existing trail and the other would add a bicycle corridor on 25th Street.
"Those are still a priority, but right now, this (revitalization) is a bigger priority," Dowhaniuk says. "It has economic drivers because it improves downtown, and the main reason it's a priority, is the project was initiated by the public."
Mayor Rob Sawatzky is pleased the project was accepted by council, despite earlier reservations about the fairness of how it's being paid for. Merchants further up 30th Avenue paid more for revitalization of their shopfronts.
"I had second thoughts when I realized there were different costs than were paid by the merchants in earlier phases," Sawatzky says. "But city standards have changed, that's just the way it is, and businesses could either benefit or suffer from it."
Coun. Juliette Cunningham was hesitant to approve the motion because she didn't think it was fair for 30th Avenue's west end shops to pay less than those up the street.
"I've not made it a secret I take issue with how this evolved in terms of previous merchants paying total costs," Cunningham, who owns a downtown business, said. "We're still paying."
Cunningham made it clear she wanted staff to "tighten up" exactly what the city's new standards for expenditures are. In the end, Cunningham voted in favour of revitalization, with Coun. Bob Spiers the lone opposer.
Dowhaniuk says the construction will begin in a week or two and hopefully conclude before tourist traffic sets in to mitigate the impact on businesses.
A public input session on the project will be held Thursday from 5 p.m. to 6 p.m. at city hall.
To contact the reporter for this story, email Charlotte Helston at email@example.com or call (250)309-5230.
News from © InfoTel News Ltd, 2013