A design process for the Highway 3 realignment from Canyon Street to Cook Street was originally undertaken by the Ministry of Transportation and Infrastructure (MOT) back in 2000. In 2003, several of those options were being considered by the B.C. government for potential construction. While the project never gained traction at the time, it should be noted that the just completed Highway 3 intersection at Pine Street and Railway Boulevard was part of this original vision.
Back in December 2008, when I was first elected as mayor, our new council undertook to define their goals and objectives for the community. Collectively, we determined that the highway realignment was a high council priority. It was recognized that moving the heavy truck traffic off of our main street would improve safety, noise and the aesthetic of our downtown. Today, council continues to recognize the possibility of reclaiming our downtown as a memorable centre where people want to stop, linger and enjoy the Creston experience. The realignment would serve as a dramatic change, increasing the community’s sense of place and the draw to our centre. It isn’t the big trucks that are stopping and shopping!
For five years, council has maintained the highway realignment as a key priority in its corporate strategic planning process. When I looked back and reviewed my files on this project, it was apparent that a lot of time and energy has been spent laying the groundwork. My first official visit to Victoria to meet with the then-transportation minister Shirley Bond, happened in July 2009. At this time, the minister and her staff encouraged me to continue our community’s quest to make this realignment a reality. Since that time, I have attended over 25 meetings with numerous MOT staff, and on June 13 it was with great pride that I walked across the newly completed Highway 3 intersection (see image below) at Pine Street and Railway Boulevard.
Special thanks go out to MOT’s project, management and financial teams for stepping up and awarding this contract, with a value of $5.4 million, to Maglio Industries Ltd. of Castlegar. Maglio’s professional approach in dealing with the Town of Creston, many sub-contractors and adjacent local businesses saw this project completed ahead of schedule. And it’s more than just an intersection; hard and soft landscaping features will be the cornerstone of the gateway to our downtown core for years to come.
Now we start the Phase 2 negotiations, hopefully with subsequent planning and engineering. With the highway realignment onto Cook Street, the five blocks of our downtown core will see some traffic lights and highway trucks disappear, an enhanced sense of place evolve, and a more robust “downtown community” grow.
In consultation with the Ministry of Education’s staff, the School District No. 8 (Kootenay Lake) board and staff, as well as MOT’s staff, meetings will be scheduled and many discussions will be required to make the Highway 3 realignment onto Cook Street become a reality. With such a milestone, town council’s long-term vision will be realized and the appeal of downtown Creston, to residents and visitors alike, will continue to grow. Let’s grow together!
Ron Toyota is in his third term as mayor of Creston.