From left to right: Councillor Denis Sauvé, Councillor Jack McLeman, Mayor Mike Ruttan, Neill Elementary students Jackson (grade 5) and Brooklynn Higgins (grade 7), city works manager Wilf Taekema, Neill Elementary Principal Ron Behnke, and city engineer Kamruz Zaman during a sidewalk dedication outside of A.W. Neill Elementary School on Wednesday, Oct. 11. ELENA RARDON PHOTO

New sidewalk outside of A.W. Neill Elementary School officially complete

Councillors, city of Port Alberni staff and students dedicate the new sidewalk

City staff and councillors gathered outside of A.W. Neill Elementary School on Wednesday morning to formally dedicate the new sidewalk outside of the school.

Neill Elementary students Brooklynn and Jackson Higgins (grade 7 and 5, respectively) cut the ribbon to officially complete the dedication.

The process to put a sidewalk outside of the school was started by Principal Ron Behnke approximately 15 years ago, back when the school was still a junior high.

“Now that it’s an elementary school, it’s even more of a concern,” said Mayor Mike Ruttan. “It’s about the safety of the students and the people who are using the road.”

City council included the request to fill in the ditch in their 2017 capital projects budget. Council set aside $100,000 from gas tax to fill in the ditch on one side of the road, install a storm drain and cover the area with an asphalt apron.

A sidewalk was also added, following safety concerns for students walking along the side of the road. According to city engineer Kamruz Zaman, ICBC contributed $10,000 to this sidewalk for the Road Safety Improvement Program.

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“Both the engineering department and the city works department have contributed hugely to the project and made it more than council originally intended,” said Ruttan. “This was a multi-faceted effort on the part of everybody.”

Behnke commended city staff for a job well done.

“Watching this project unfold as it did, the urgency was appreciated,” he said.

elena.rardon@albernivalleynews.com