An updated look at the future vision for downtown Burns Lake was presented to council recently.
Mike Skeene, president of the Boulevard Transportation Group presented the design rendering and detailed plans for the town square, Gilgan St., Government St., Third Ave. and Hwy. 16.
Skeene said the plans were also presented to the downtown revitalization committee during their Nov. 7, 2011 meeting.
He said that he has been in contact with the Canadian National Railway (CNR) and discussed the lease conditions of Gilgan Rd. with them
Because the Village of Burns Lake lease Gilgan Rd. from CNR they want to be given the right to approve any upgrades or changes to the road. “Most of the roadway is CNR property under lease to the village, so we have to deal with them,” he said.
Sheryl Worthing, Village of Burns Lake chief administrative officer said the original lease of Gilgan Rd. was signed in 1980 and renewed again in 2008 for a five year term. “The village is responsible for road maintenance and pay an annual fee of $500,” Worthing said.
Skeene said there are plans to convert Gilgan Rd. and Government St. to a green way corridor.
“The corridor will be more oriented to green space, but will not preclude vehicle traffic.”
The existing intersection of Government St. and Hwy. 16 would be removed and closed off to vehicle traffic. This right of way would then become part of the proposed town square.
“There would be a cafe [New Leaf] on one side of the village square and the post office on the other. Skeene said a train stop has been incorporated into the proposed town square designs and it is depicted in the draft plan as a train station.
Skeene later said to Lakes District News that although a train stop has been incorporated in the design, it is up to CNR to make the train station a more substantial stop.
He said the Village of Burns Lake are not being asked to fund a station at the site. “It is up to CNR to look into creating something there, like they had in the past, if that is their preference,” he said.
He said the train stop idea is simply a vision and is yet to be refined as the plans move forward, but he hopes that private property owners in the downtown core, including CNR will embrace the new vision for Burns Lake.
“CNR is a significant corporate citizen of the Village of Burns Lake and I hope they will want to be part of the solution,” Skeene said.
“They are waiting for us to submit our plans, but have said that they don’t have money in their planning budget for a train station in Burns Lake.”
Kelli Svendsen, from CNR’s media relations department said to Lakes District News that CNR records dating back to 1993 indicate Burns Lake as a sign post only stop and therefore not an actual station building location.”
She said, “If Burns Lake wanted to build a new station building, they would need to contact VIA Rail Canada to begin the process.”
Skeene said the town square would be heavily landscaped and there would be potential to include items such as a bell tower, a clock or a fountain.
The lane way behind Canada Post will also be revamped. “It will be open to two way traffic and it will be a key link for traffic East to West.”
The proposed roundabout at the end of Third Ave. also continues to be a feature of the proposed plans. “A roundabout will make traffic flow better. We are looking at truck turning movements so we are not solid on the roundabout, but it is a good idea to at least evaluate the benefits. If a roundabout was there it would be a much safer intersection.”
The plans will also potentially include an emergency traffic light at the intersection of Hwy. 16 and Third Ave., only for use by the Burns Lake Fire and Rescue Department.
Skeene said the light will turn red to traffic when the fire department activate the traffic light in an emergency situation. “This will give them full access to the North, East and South, but we first have to make sure the Ministry of Transportation and Infrastructure is supportive of the idea.”
The renderings show three new crosswalks across Hwy. 16. One will potentially be located near Third Ave. the second near First Ave. and the third, at Centre St.
“The sidewalk along Hwy. 16 will also be widened and there will be trees planted along the route. We still have to determine if these are the right locations for the crosswalks and still have to discuss these plans with the committee.”