page contents Vote Dylan Bressey, candidate for Grande Prairie City Council. Election 2017. page contents

Options to Spruce-up 100 Ave

This week, the Infrastructure and Protective Services Committee was provided a report on downtown. I'm not sure if everyone discussing it has a clear picture of what is going on. So here is my take:

In the fall, Council decided not to go forward with the next phase of Downtown Rehabilitation this summer. However, it also asked management to present options to improve the looks 100 Ave east of 100 St.

These options were presented to committee on Tuesday. The total projected cost was $468,000 for 25 street lights, 8 waste receptacles, 16 bike racks, and 8 boulder benches. However, since this was a very high level estimate, a 25% contingency was also recommended, bringing the budget to $585,000.

The big reason for high expenses: all this equipment requires a concrete base. Before concrete can be installed, the red bricks need to be removed. In some cases, curb would also need to be removed and then replaced to install new equipment.

About $273,000 of the costs would be "throw away" when the next phase of rehabilitation is carried out.

Committee unanimously voted to "receive this report for information." That is basically the polite way of saying "we are voting to not go ahead with this right now."

I cannot speak for others. However, it didn't seem to me that anyone around the table saw these options as palatable.

My take on these recommendations: they are completely off the table for me. I could be supportive of spending a reasonable amount of money to improve the looks of this stretch of road. But spending over $250,000 per block is out of the question to me.

I think Council needs to do two things:

1) Have an actual discussion about the future of downtown. We voted to not fund Phase 4 in 2019. But we haven't had any real conversation about "so what next?" Will construction happen again in a couple of years or a couple of decades? Are there certain conditions we want to see met before it happens, or do we just want to select a timeline? If Phase 4 happens, should that be the end of rehabilitation [for now] or should we be budgeting for phases 5-8? We need to figure these questions out.

2) If Phase 4 is likely to be delayed by more than a year or two, we should look at ways to spruce it up until it is redone. I know there are creative solutions out there that don't need to cost hundreds of thousands of dollars per block. I've seen them in other municipalities. At committee, I suggested a couple of processes we could use to identify them. Even if now isn't the time to continue with rehabilitation, we can't just ignore this part of our city center.

As always, I welcome any thoughts or questions you have.

Thanks for reading!