The City of Campbell River will be embarking on the first stage of upgrading downtown’s Seagull Walkway, following a decision by city council.
The 240-metre Seagull Walkway is located in downtown Campbell River on the shoreline between Fisherman’s Wharf and Robert V. Ostler Park. Construction of the walkway started in 1980 and was completed over 16 years.
As it is now showing its age, the city has been looking to upgrade the walkway, which has three parts: a north portion, a south portion and its swing bridge. The city applied for a provincial grant to fund extensive renewal of the walkway’s north and south sections earlier this year, but was unsuccessful.
Recent engineering assessments showed that while the walkway’s older north section needs structural renewal, the newer south portion is in better shape structurally and needs surface renewal only.
On Aug. 9, city council passed a motion for city staff to oversee the design and construction of these surface renewals for the south section. It passed 5-2, with Mayor Andy Adams and Coun. Kermit Dahl voting in opposition.
The time is now to upgrade the south walkway, according to city staff. This is because while site access is already constrained, it will become even more difficult once the adjacent Crown Pacific building, now under construction, is completed. After that point, there will be higher costs associated with equipment and materials reaching the site.
There were also concerns the landscaping and exterior design of the finished building could clash with the walkway, should they not be completed together.
The upgrades will be designed in accordance with the city’s 2017 Refresh Downtown plan, which highlights the benefits of public-private partnerships for capital projects. This will be realized through coordination with Crown Pacific on the project.
The project’s design and construction will go to tender in accordance with council policy, per the motion, with the city responsible for project management. This presents a challenge, as city staff are occupied with other capital projects. To address this, Ron Neufeld, the city’s deputy city manager, will manage the project.
“The management approach that we’re suggesting here is a little bit unconventional but it does provide us with a practical way forward to achieve the project and to accomplish the coordination I think that everybody is looking for,” said Neufeld.
Another option was to have Crown Pacific perform the job directly, through a sole-source contact, meaning the company would be responsible for project management as well as its construction and design. But this would have been a deviation from the city’s procurement policy, with the potential for legal challenge. The company’s willingness to complete the project was also unclear.
Mayor Andy Adams said he was opposed to the first option because he is concerned about staff capacity, and would prefer to have Crown Pacific manage the surface upgrades, saying it would be a win-win for the city by ensuring design consistency and providing better economies of scale.
The preliminary cost estimate for the project is $500,000, to be funded through the Community Works Fund (derived from the federal gas tax, rather than property taxes). Upgrades to the north portion of the walkway and the swing bridge will be considered as separate projects at some point.