Downtown Mission is going to get a long awaited face lift.
Mission council has unanimously decided to invest $3.5 million into a First Avenue streetscape improvement project in the downtown core. The project will span three blocks, from Horne Street to Grand Street.
The decision was made during a special budget meeting on Wednesday afternoon.
The new streetscape concept includes many elements designed to improve the overall pedestrian experience along with increased safety. This includes:
1. Increasing the number of street trees with new tree grates and irrigation;
2. Moderate widening of the sidewalk (inclusive of a decorate strip adjacent to the parking lane);
3. A slight decrease in the width of the roadway (Ministry of Transportation and Infrastructure has already approved the change);
4. Addition of street furniture including new benches, litter bins, bike racks and bollards (a short vertical post) that are functional, attractive and cohesive;
5. New street lights with banner and basket brackets;
6. Increasing the bump outs at the intersection to improve pedestrian safety and provide added design elements for the visually impaired; and
7. Removing bump outs on the south side of the street – creating six additional parking spaces.
Council was presented with three design options, choosing to go with the most expensive design.
“We have committed to option A, a $3.5 million spend that will begin in 2017 and hopefully be finished in 2018. It’s a remake of downtown,” said Mayor Randy Hawes.
Option B included new sidewalks, lights (with banner/basket brackets) and tree replacement only and was estimated to cost $2.16 million while option C featured new sidewalks and lights for a cost of $1.72 million.
“We had promised the downtown business association that we were going to do something, Of the three options, council felt option A, which I guess I’ll term it as the full meal deal was preferable to taking a half measure,” said Hawes, adding that council has spent considerable time trying to identifying funding sources.
“They are there, without us borrowing money,” said Hawes.
More details of the funding plan will be made public as 2017 budget discussion continue.
One thing the new improvements does not include is a proposed Welton Street Plaza.
Hawes said there is interest in making the area a gathering place for residents, but said a plan for that would come at a later date.
Jamie Hayes, executive director of the Mission Downtown Business Association could hardly contain her excitement when she heard about the decision.
“This is something we have been waiting years for. I don’t think ecstatic is a strong enough word to cover it. We are utterly thrilled,” she said.
Hayes is confident the improvement project will benefit the whole community.
“It’s going to attract a lot more foot traffic, it will attract more merchants and it will attract more investors wanting to build in downtown Mission.”
She also hopes to see more residential development in the downtown area.