Downtown sidewalk improvements considered

Councillors approve money for new drawings on improved downtown streetscape that could result in narrowing of First Avenue.

On Monday

Downtown Mission could get a facelift that will see sidewalks widened, the road narrowed and new trees planted.

Councillors approved a request Monday for up to $15,000 to create new design drawings for a revitalized downtown streetscape.

The drawings are needed because previous designs were part of a plan to move the Lougheed Highway off of First Avenue that council shelved six months ago.

Citing questions by potential investors, staff had asked council to provide some guidance about the future look of the downtown.

The new drawings approved Monday will likely see each sidewalk re-paved and widened by a half-metre, possibly with a more appealing curb-side strip. The plan would require the removal of the trees currently in place and the planting of new trees.

Mayor Randy Hawes questioned the narrowing of each lane by half-a-metre, but long-range planning manager Gina MacKay said the move may help safety by reducing the speed of traffic. She also noted that the possibility had been suggested by Ministry of Transportation staff.

While he wasn’t pleased that a dollar amount had already been placed on the drawings when they might cost less, Hawes agreed that the sidewalks are badly in need of repaving.

“Some of those sidewalks are pretty badly broken up,” he said. “Some people have tripped there … we’re lucky we haven’t been sued.”

In its report to council, MacKay wrote that the drawings are needed because staff “are finding it difficult to communicate and promote are initiatives beyond the incentive package as we don’t know what changes will be made to the original plans and what the overall objective is for downtown.”

There is also hope that the district can use the drawings to leverage funds from the provincial government for the redesign of the highway.