By Trevor Busch
A decision on the proposed 46th Avenue sidewalk project has been postponed for a further month.
At their Sept. 14 meeting, town council voted unanimously to direct administration to install two culverts, with proper easements, across 46th Avenue in accordance with the drainage plan for the area.
The second part of administration’s recommended motion, which had been included in the Request for Decision, was for council to approve the construction of a sidewalk with additional street lighting along the south side of 46th Avenue from the intersection of Barton Drive to the east side of Lot C, Block 7552 JK (vet clinic), and for administration to work closely with the affected businesses to ensure minimal disruption to business activities. In a follow-up motion, council voted unanimously to table a decision on the proposed 46th Avenue sidewalk for a further month.
Prior to passing the above proposals, council had voted unanimously to move discussion into closed session for a review of “legal concerns” regarding the planned development. Closed session, or in camera discussions, bar the participation of the public or media.
During 2013 budget deliberations, council had requested a sidewalk for pedestrians be constructed along 46th Avenue, which was added to the 2014 asphalt and concrete replacement tender, but went uncompleted at that time due to objections surrounding the proposed orientation of the sidewalk in front of several local businesses.
At their July 21 meeting, town council had tabled a decision on the future of the project until the presentation of a Stormwater Master Plan at their Aug. 17 meeting.
Businesses in the area (Potato Growers of Alberta, Horizon Implements, Fitch Tire, Buffalo Head Veterinary Clinic, and Boston Pizza) assembled as a delegation at the June 23, 2014 council meeting, detailing their objections to the construction of a sidewalk on the south side of 46th Avenue. On July 11, 2014, public works held a meeting with business owners in the area to discuss those concerns, including the exit and egress of customers and suppliers potentially being impeded by pedestrian traffic, and danger to pedestrians due to the area being heavy traffic and high volume. Instances of vandalism were also reported, and it was suggested that proper lighting could help rectify this issue. Business representatives were also unsure of property boundary lines, and were concerned if a sidewalk would encroach on these boundaries.
According to administration, the cost of constructing a sidewalk on the north side of 46th Avenue would be double the estimated cost of a south side construction.
Placing a sidewalk on the north side of 46th Avenue along the existing drainage ditch was investigated by administration, but was determined to be a less than attractive option, considering drainage issues, required permission from Alberta Transportation, and driving construction costs above the budget which had been established by the town.
Also considered was the possibility of creating a one-way street, but was determined to be unfeasible as it would create more traffic at the Highway 3 and Highway 36 intersection, among other issues. Another solution proposed was a foot bridge across the the railway tracks and Highway 3, but was largely dismissed as it would require Alberta Transportation’s approval and involvement, as well as being considered prohibitively expensive. The intersection of Highway 3 and Highway 36 currently has no pedestrian crossing signs, and was never built with anticipation of pedestrian traffic.