Downtown improvements begin

Campbell RIver motorists can expect some detours and delays as underground work gets underway

Construction on downtown improvements for the St. Ann’s block are expected to start next month.

The city is planning a complete makeover of the area between 10th Avenue and Shoppers Row which will include upgrades to underground city services such as water, sewer and storm drainage systems, as well as above-ground improvements to roads, sidewalks, streetlights and landscaping.

The city’s downtown revitalization project is estimated to cost $4.05 million and will be funded by the city’s sewer capital, water capital and general capital reserves as well as from the parks parcel tax reserve and the community works fund.

The work will tie in with the building of Seymour Pacific’s new, four-storey headquarters on the St. Ann’s block, across from Chances casino.

“We’re pretty excited to make downtown Campbell River the site of this new building,” said Sean Roy, chief executive officer of Seymour Pacific. “It will have a pretty significant entrance just off of St. Ann’s…it will be something pretty special, it will redefine downtown, from the way we look at it.”

The city intends to work with Seymour Pacific to enhance the area where Seymour Pacific’s property and the city’s will meet and create vibrant, pedestrian-friendly public spaces.

The city plans to plant new trees and create small, park-like spaces and garden areas. New streetlights, similar to the ones in Willow Point, are proposed to improve lighting in the evening and creative designs in paving stones will make streets and lane ways more appealing.

The city hopes options for sidewalk patio space could encourage existing cafés to expand or new ventures to set up shop.

The city last week posted an invitation on its website to companies to submit bids for the project. The tender closes on May 23.

The plan is to begin construction in June and proceed until the end of 2013. The city intends to get construction moving in June to take advantage of the dry summer months.

One of the contractor’s first tasks will be to prepare a traffic management plan to outline how cars and pedestrians will move safely through and around the site.”

Mayor Walter Jakeway said that during an infrastructure assessment, the city discovered a wood stave pipe runs under the ground just in front of Scotia Bank and will need to be taken out and replaced. He said the area will have to be dug up, as will the road just outside Chances. As well traffic heading to Shoppers Row will be diverted down 9th Avenue.

Coun. Mary Storry said mitigating disruptions to drivers and pedestrians is a must, “We recognize that keeping people moving downtown is of vital importance to businesses and visitors.”