Friday, April 15, 2016

Road project gets go ahead

by Kate Bouey - CASTANET Apr 15, 2016 / 11:05 am
Vernon city council has given the go ahead to a major downtown road project that has caused friction with a business now in its busy season. Work on 32nd Avenue between 27th and 29th streets will begin next Monday, following a week of delay as city staff worked on how to accommodate Briteland, a garden retail and landscape company. Construction is expected to last two months. The company was only informed last week that the project was moving ahead immediately. In a special meeting on the topic Friday, council voted 5-1 to move forward with only Coun. Scott Anderson voting against. Coun. Catherine Lord was away. Anderson said there could be a significant impact on the 28th Street business, with construction driving away customers. “Where there is disruption, customers try to take the path of least resistance.” “I'm concerned about the message this is sending (to the wider business community),” Anderson said. “We're sending a message that we really don't care.” Coun. Brian Quiring also stated his concerns despite his yes vote, pointing to traffic congestion in the area during construction, especially as School District 22 uses Beairsto School as a major school bus transit point. “It is going to be very, very busy in there with parents dropping off kids, buses, etc.,” said Quiring. He called for extra measures to help with traffic circulation during hours when traffic would be able to cross 32nd Avenue to 28th Street, to aid school buses and delivery trucks. Those hours are expected to be between 7-9 a.m. and 2-4 p.m. during the work week.

In a report to council, city staff said delay of the construction project until July could add another $100,000 to the cost of the project. As it is, the one week delay may cost an additional $26,717 according to the contractor, although Mayor Akbal Mund said council did not agree with that figure. He said council is seeking legal advice. The total cost of the project is expected to be $473,900, not including GST. Staff has promised to be more proactive in ensuring businesses are made aware of construction projects well in advance so there can be more time for public feedback. They are also working with the impacted businesses to help with delivery access during construction. Briteland owner Dave Weatherill was unavailable for comment, however, in an interview earlier this week, he expressed his distress over the lack of communication and worry that customers and delivery trucks would not be able to access his business.
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