By Trevor Busch
Town council is pressuring administration to step up plans to extend 56th Avenue from its current western terminus near 43rd Street to an intersection with Highway 864.
During capital deliberations at town council’s December special budget meeting, Coun. Jack Brewin expressed interest in eventually finishing the thoroughfare if more traffic is anticipated in the area based on the expected installation of traffic lights at the intersection of Highway 3 and Highway 864 in 2018.
“I think we should very strongly consider a study on 56th Avenue, connecting it up to Highway 864, the engineering, siting, and getting on with perhaps doing that street, especially as Highway 864 I believe is going to see more traffic because the lights are there, it’s going to be easier access in and out of town. To join north with Westview there, estates on Highway 864, with one more intersection there connected to the Trout Pond road I think would be very beneficial to the town,” said Brewin.
Coun. Louie Tams was supportive of the idea, suggesting potentially getting started on the project as early as 2019.
“At the end of the day, 56th Avenue has to get extended, whether we see that in 2018, 2019, or 2020. I prefer to see it in 2019 — we’re probably going to have to do the engineering part of it in 2018, and then take a look at it in 2019 — but at some point in time that 56th Avenue is going to have to get done.”
Viewing the idea in terms of the town’s walking trail project, CAO Cory Armfelt identified potential advantages to extending the roadway.
“I think there would be a lot of advantages there, especially with regard to a trail connection. If we were to extend 56th Avenue out for people traffic, then we could connect to the Trout Pond, and then have a legitimate trail loop all the way through town.”
While cautiously optimistic, Coun. Garth Bekkering also pushed for council to improve existing infrastructure throughout the community.
“It’s a very costly project I’m sure. I’m also not opposed to placing in 2018 for engineering study and getting some cost estimates on it. It probably will be pushed back to 2020, but there’s nothing wrong with initiating the process. At the same time, I certainly urge council to consider rehabilitating and fixing what we’ve got.”
Coun. Mark Garner pointed out that another access point could be beneficial for emergency services attempting to access the area.
“Logistically looking at that extension on 56th Avenue west, I think it’s long overdue. If I were a resident that lived out in that corner of town, it’s very awkward to get to your residence. You’re going through a mouse maze to get there. I definitely think we should look at 56th Avenue and get that in the works. I would think if we wanted to get a fire truck in that corner of town, it would be nice to have a few shortcuts.”
Public works director Gary Scherer warned that any potential project in future would not be as easy as just laying down some asphalt.
“If you do plan to go ahead with it, it’s not just the road. You normally have to put utilities underneath it, so there’s water and sanitary and storm that may have to go along, and it may escalate the price.”