Drivers can expect traffic delays in and around the St. Ann’s block downtown starting early next week.
The city’s downtown revitalization project, which includes an overhaul of the city’s aging underground infrastructure as well as landscaping improvements above ground to create a more walkable, pedestrian-friendly space, is expected to get underway as early as Monday. The project broke ground at a ceremony Wednesday morning near the Alder and Beech street intersection.
Jason Hartley, the city’s capital works manager, said the estimated $4.045 million project will be done in sections at two separate times.
“The current plan sees the project delivered in two phases and that’s done intentionally to attempt to minimize traffic disruptions,” Hartley said.
Construction, which will be done by Upland Excavating Ltd. of Campbell River, will be broken up into a summer and a fall phase.
Because the project involves a full re-construction of the sewer, water, and storm drainage systems, the streets within the St. Ann’s block will have to be torn up and then re-surfaced.
During summer construction, which is targeted to be done between July and August, St. Ann’s Road will be closed to traffic in both directions between Alder and Shoppers Row (the street alongside Chances Casino). Detours will be via Alder Street and 10th Avenue. Also during summer construction, Dubeau Street (behind CIBC) will be closed to all traffic from St. Ann’s Road to Beech Street. Detours will be via St. Ann’s Road and Beech Street.
With both road closures, local traffic trying to access nearby businesses will be allowed through.
During the fall construction, road closures will be in effect from September to October. Alder Street will be closed from Beech Street to 10th Avenue. Traffic will be detoured via Beech and Dubeau streets. Alder will also be closed between Beech and St. Ann’s, with detours via St. Ann’s and Alder (north). Finally, Beech Street will be closed to traffic between Alder and Dubeau streets with detours via the Dubeau alley and Alder.
Mayor Walter Jakeway admitted the project, while important to Campbell River, will have an impact on nearby businesses.
“We’re very aware that this underground work will be an inconvenience to our neighbourhood this summer,” Jakeway. “Traffic is going to be interrupted and there will be surprises when you’re re-building an aging infrastructure like we have here that dates up to 60-years-old. The key is take the time, do it right and be flexible. This is an exciting time for Campbell River and this is a big step forward.”
The city’s project is aimed at complimenting construction on Seymour Pacific’s new headquarters building in the same area. While city council had identified downtown revitalization as a strategic priority some years ago, with construction already underway on Seymour Pacific’s building, the perfect opportunity presented itself.
Coun. Andy Adams said he was thankful the current council and city staff have embraced downtown revitalization and have worked to get things moving.
“I like to say that it’s a downtown triangle. We’ve got Rose Harbour that’s just nearing completion (on Dogwood Street), we have this project that’s just kicking off and we have Berwick over near the waterfront,” Adams said. “If we fill in that triangle – we’ve already got other major developments in city hall for major development permits and people exploring and taking a look at what else can happen in the downtown core.”
Coun. Mary Storry, who has the public works portfolio, said she’s happy to see the area returning to its former glory.
“I’m so excited to see it have new life again, this whole area, have new life. The exciting part for me is going to be the outdoor park areas that are going to create a place where people want to sit, come from work, have your lunch, relax.”
Storry recalled. For Colleen Evans, president of the Chamber of Commerce, the project shows that Campbell River is open for business development and growth and promotes a healthy economy.
“It’s an indicator of an exciting time for Campbell River,” Evans said. “Clearly this is a time of growth and re-development. Today’s announcement (comes) on the heels of the John Hart Dam project, Berwick, the new North Island Hospitals project, the LNG initiative (at the former mill site); it just feels like every week there’s a new announcement.”
But while downtown was celebrating, Jakeway was quick to point out that other areas of the city will not be neglected.
“There are other areas of our city to the north and to the south that still need infrastructure,” Jakeway said. “Don’t think that because it’s happening here that you’re going to be forgotten. There’s a list of about $35 million in infrastructure that needs to be done and it’s just going to take some time.”