The city will soon be tearing up Alder Street near the new Seymour Pacific office presently under construction

Construction ‘pains’ provide long-term gains

Downtown Campbell River businesses will remain open during construction

Monique Reid can envision the day when she can have patio tables on a wider sidewalk bordered by trees and shrubs.

It will be far more “pedestrian friendly” says the owner/operator of Misty Fin’s Eatery and Lounge.

However, she also wonders what the next six months will be like when contractors start digging up downtown in and around the new construction for Seymour Pacific Development’s office.

“It’s going to suck in one sense: It’s our first summer open,” she says. “We opened last August and we’re still trying to get our name out there.”

Misty Fin’s is located on Alder Street right across the road from the Best Wok which is well-known in Campbell River, but will also face the same construction-related and access problems as its neighbours.

Reid is encouraged by the city’s promise to advertise the fact that businesses in the work area are remaining open through the construction period.

The $4.7-million project has been contracted to Upland Excavating, a local company, and involves replacing underground water and sewer services, and burying much of the overhead wiring.

Work is expected to begin in the next week or so and will continue until December.

However, according to the city’s capital works manager, Jason Hartley, the goal is to get the roads finished and paved as soon as possible, and then further work can continue on the sidewalks and landscaping.

The work is purposely taking place now in order to co-ordinate construction with the Seymour-Pacific office and to minimize long-term traffic disruptions downtown.

“Some of those water and sewer lines are very old. It needs to happen – and they may as well do all the ripping up at once,” says Reid.

Replacing aging services is the necessity, but the aesthetic benefit will be the streetscaping.

Alder street will be narrowed a bit in order to widen the sidewalks and to have plantings on both sides.

The wider sidewalk will allow restaurants to have outdoor tables.

And providing shade for those el fresco diners will be oak, beech and maple trees, not the dreaded London plane trees that border nearby Shopper’s Row.

The growing root balls of the three-decade-old London planes are creating havoc for the city, downtown property owners and their tenants, as they block up sewers and grow through brick walls.

The same mistake won’t happen again.

The city will plant the new trees in surrounds to contain the roots and to limit their height, and cool looking metal “kelp” grates will protect the roots while allowing rain water to feed the trees.

The overall goal is to turn this old and neglected area of downtown into a park-like setting with traffic “calming” measures, more green space and “sensibly-spaced” parking.

There’s still room for motorists, but the overall effect will be better for pedestrians and cyclists.

“I’m glad they’re narrowing (Alder) because people just fly down here – to me, it’s a good thing,” says Reid.