Burns Lake council defers decision on sidewalks

New sidewalks would delay paving of two avenues

Village council has deferred a decision on whether to install sidewalks on portions of First and Fifth Avenues until next month.

The project, estimated to cost $257,000, would see the installation of sidewalks, curbs, gutters and storm drains along the two avenues, between Hwy. 16 to Centre Street, in 2020.

But according to a village staff report, moving ahead with this project would mean scaling back this year’s paving plans in order to keep within budget.

The 2020 budget included a paving plan for portions of First, Second, Third, Fourth and Fifth Avenues. But with the installation of sidewalks, the paving of Second and Third Avenues — expected to cost $198,870 — would no longer take place this year.

Village staff did not recommend installing sidewalks on Second, Third and Fourth Avenues due to their steep grades.

“The steeper grades would make it challenging for the smaller sidewalk snow clearing machines, and could potentially put the equipment operator at risk,” said Sheryl Worthing, the village’s chief administrative officer. “Further to this, the pedestrian traffic on steep and slippery sidewalks would also be a concern as slip and fall incidents would undoubtedly increase.”

In the meantime, council is taking other steps to ensure Burns Lake becomes more pedestrian-friendly.

The village has recently applied for a provincial grant that, if approved, would allow the municipality to complete the following projects this summer:

– Add a sidewalk from Lake Babine Nation’s band office down Sus Avenue and along Centre Street, connecting to the sidewalk in front of the Lakes District Hospital and Health Centre;

– Add a sidewalk down Ninth Avenue to Upper Lorne Street; and

– Add a sidewalk from Upper Lorne Street to Eighth Avenue.

The project, estimated to cost $540,000, would include curbs, gutters, crosswalk painting and signs, as well as park benches and bike racks.

The BC Active Transportation Infrastructure Grants Program would cover 80 per cent of the cost while Lake Babine Nation and the Village of Burns Lake would share the remaining $108,000. Funds for the village portion would come from municipal reserves.

Phase II of the project, which would be funded through the 2021 intake of the same grant, includes a sidewalk on Ninth Avenue, from Carroll Street to Centre Street, and a sidewalk from Ninth Avenue to Hwy. 16 along Centre Street.

According to the village, the new sidewalks would create safe walking access to two seniors’ residential facilities, the hospital, Lake Babine Nation, William Konkin Elementary and the Rod Reid Nature Trail.

Funding recipients are expected to be announced in May.

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