This rendering shows where the major connector would be built, stretching from Willis Road to McPhedran Road at Second Avenue. The timeline for the connector has been moved up five years so council can start making inquiries into grants to help fund the project.

CITY BUDGET 2018: Willis Connector five years closer than originally planned

Council positioned to start the process of looking for grant opportunities on $30-million project

The planned timeline on the biggest Campbell River roadway project in quite some time has been moved up five years.

The inner-city connector that would see Willis Road continue through currently undeveloped green space and connect with the intersection of McPhedran Road and Second Avenue was originally scheduled in the 2018-2027 budget to begin in 2025 and run through 2027. It has now been targeted to begin in 2020.

“We just approved the $30,000 to dust off the old plan and take a look at that, we have our new hospital that has just been done, and this plan will be strictly dependent on grant funding through our provincial government,” said Coun. Michele Babchuk in proposing the move during this week’s financial planning meetings.

The project remains “below the line,” in the 10-year financial plan, i.e., does not technically commit council to fund the project, but it does indicate their intent to do so.

Babchuk’s point was that they want to make it clear to the current provincial government that this project is a real priority for the city and not some crazy dream they hope will happen sometime way down the road.

“I think it’s important to show that this is an emerging priority so that we can show it’s not so far out and they may consider adding us to a grant funding opportunity.”

Coun. Colleen Evans agreed.

“I think it’s a key role of council to advocate on behalf of priorities and moving this forward really gives us increased momentum and identifies this as an important opportunity,” Evans said. “As we know, it takes multiple years to get this kind of project supported, so the sooner we can start by identifying it as a priority in our budget, I think is a positive step forward.”

“If we want to keep our growth spurt going, we need to find good ways to connect that Quinsam Heights area to the rest of town and we need these corridors to do that,” Coun. Charlie Cornfield agreed.

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