Major road work begins

Burns Lake core redo right around the corner; work starts soon.

The gateway to Tweedsmuir Park is about to get a face lift. Construction starts at the end of this month to complete phase-one of the Burns Lake downtown revitalization project. Road work

The gateway to Tweedsmuir Park is about to get a face lift. Construction starts at the end of this month to complete phase-one of the Burns Lake downtown revitalization project. Road work

Recent spring street cleaning will be shortly followed by the start of downtown construction. Major roadwork is scheduled to begin on April 28, 2013, and is scheduled to be completed by May 25.

New curbs, bulbs and medians will be built by the Ministry of Transportation and Infrastructure (MOTI) in conjunction with LB Paving of Smithers. When construction is complete, there will be four pedestrian crosswalks, three left-hand turn lanes, and expanded greenspace build-outs along existing sidewalks. Street-side parking will be greatly reduced, with plans to eventually increase downtown parking once remediation of local brownfield sites are complete

Over the remainder of the summer, Village of Burns Lake public works will take care of soft-landscaping like planting shrubs and prairie spire ash trees. Plans also call for the installation of four First Nations clan carvings, new benches and new waste bins.

Phase one of the downtown revitalization project has not been without its critics.

A vocal proponent for increased business consultation has found himself inside the fold of the Burns Lake Downtown Revitalization Committee (DRC). Prior to Wayne Brown’s joining the steering committee, he was a vocal critic of the planning that has gone into the municipal project.

The largest part of Brown’s concerns for the downtown revitalization project was the loss of store-front parking that his, and other businesses, will experience as a result of sidewalk extensions that will provide a landscaped buffer between pedestrians and highway traffic.

Brown was concerned that an attractive walkway connecting his shop to centrally located parking was no replacement for quick and convenient store-front parking. He also continues to have concerns about the placement of a signed pedestrian crosswalk in front of the Royal Bank.

At the April 2, 2013 meeting of the downtown revitalization committee, Brown brought up his concerns but has since resigned himself to the inevitable march of downtown construction.

“It sounds like phase one is complete,” said Brown during the meeting.  With the April 28 start date for spring construction just around the corner, there really isn’t a lot of room for further consultation regarding phase one of the project, said counc. Frank Varga.

“Phase one is pretty much a go,” said Varga. “This is what’s happening. This is how things are going to progress through phase one.”

The downtown steering committee will begin a ‘business engagement’ process between now and the start of construction. A brief meeting of the DRC is scheduled for May 6, 2013, where committee members will have the opportunity to consider any feedback or comments arising out of the business engagement process. Recommendations of the DRC go before Village of Burns Lake council for any final decisions. An issue raised by Brown at the last meeting was the extent to which local artisans had been engaged in the waste-bin and bench selection process. Brown voted against a committee resolution to select a particular bench and bin combination because he wasn’t convinced that local options had been exhausted.

The Ministry of Transportation and Infrastructure is picking up almost half of the $1 million price tag for the project. The Village of Burns Lake applied for and will receive over $300,000 worth of funding from the Nechako Kitimaat Development Fund and Northern Development and Economic Diversification Infrastructure.