Improvement, improvement, improvement.
The words seemed to ring through council chambers Monday as city staff ran through a jam-packed agenda of projects like auctioneers at a cattle rattle.
From Ben Lee Park to Ellis Street to K.L.O.’s Fascieux Creek, facelifts, tweaks and all-out overhauls appear the order of the day in this city.
Some of the plans will take a little getting used to for members of the public.
“I have to confess, the first time I ran right into one of these bollards because I was looking up and didn’t see it,” said Coun. Robert Hobson, noting the urban braille to be used on Ellis Street is one that takes some adjustment.
The bollard is a low post placed beside a warning strip to help the visually impaired pick up on crosswalks and they’re just one of the many innovations urban designers and planners will be using to slow traffic and ensure the downtown core is a pedestrian-focused zone.
Five major projects in the Ellis Steet corridor—a major addition to the library parkade, the new Innovation Centre, the Interior Health Authority’s new downtown building, the Queensway bus loop improvements and the new Ellis Street Parkade—inspired, or rather required, the city to give Ellis a similar facelift to Bernard Avenue.
It means the restaurant seating will remain in place, but there will be a rethink of how people cross the street with room for new crosswalks, more accessible design features like those bollards, wider sidewalks and plenty of landscape beautification to continue the downtown core’s upgrades.
In a funny juxtaposition, city council was also asked to lend a helping hand to parents at K.L.O. Middle School to ensure the group could undo some of the damage done by urbanization to bring back the natural beauty of Fascieux Creek.
After securing an $80,000 federal grant to remove a culvert and restore the creek, the parents won the right to free tipping fees at the landfill, a free development permit, and 60 cubic metres of Ogo compost courtesy of the city. No one objected.
And in Rutland, families at Ben Lee Park may soon enjoy a more accessible neighbourhood playground following Monday’s meeting.
City staff received the go ahead to apply for federal funds to work on a $100,000 upgrade that would see the playground surface rubberized.
If successful, special equipment will be added to ensure playtime is more inclusive for those with a wide range of disabilities and the sidewalks upgraded with accessibility in mind.
Should the city succeed in its bid, $50,000 would come from the federal 2014 Enabling Accessibility Fund and $50,000 from the city’s parks department reserves.