Victoria Quay is located on the Somass River in Port Alberni. Also the unceded territory of the Tseshaht and Hupacasath First Nations. (AV NEWS FILE PHOTO)

Victoria Quay is located on the Somass River in Port Alberni. Also the unceded territory of the Tseshaht and Hupacasath First Nations. (AV NEWS FILE PHOTO)

City of Port Alberni moves forward with design work for Connect the Quays pathway

City hopes to start construction in 2022

With public engagement completed, the city is moving forward on construction of a multi-modal pathway between Victoria Quay and Harbour Quay.

Port Alberni’s city council gave approval Dec. 13 to PWL Partnership Landscape Architects Inc. to begin detailed design work for two sections of the Connect the Quays pathway, at a cost of $90,000. The plan, said city director of engineering and public works Rob Dickinson, is to start construction of these two segments in 2022.

Public engagement showed an overwhelming preference for waterfront access, said Dickinson, so the city will be starting with 1,100 metres of path between Harbour Quay and Tyee Landing—complete with a viewpoint along the Somass Lands.

READ MORE: Connect the Quays project draws community response in Port Alberni

“Creating an opportunity for the public to see the amazing property we have purchased and the opportunities there,” added Dickinson.

The preliminary cost estimate for this part of the path is approximately $900,000.

Staff are also recommending design and construction of 850 metres of path from Gertrude Street through Roger Creek Park to the bridge across Roger Creek. Dickinson said this portion will be less complicated than others because the city is the primary property owner.

“It is an opportunity to enhance one of our existing parks,” said Dickinson.

This section of path is expected to cost approximately $1.2 million.

Dickinson said the city has budgeted enough in this year’s financial plan to award the contract to PWL. The city is still waiting to hear back on $2.5 million in grant funding.

“Once we have a detailed design with a cost estimate, we would bring that back to council,” said Dickinson. “We would hope to see that in the spring. At that time we would have gotten close to finalizing our budget process, as well as really hoping we’ll hear back about that grant.”

Mayor Sharie Minions read her annual address on Dec. 13, and took time to talk about the Connect the Quays project.

“The multi-modal pathway will provide a safe, inclusive and high-quality path that enhances the quality of life of all residents of Port Alberni,” she said.

The project has been talked about for decades, added Minions.

“We found it recently in a plan from 1983,” she laughed. “We are proud to be the council finally advancing this initiative.”

But not everyone is happy to see this project move forward. Randy Fraser, a retired city employee, has been a vocal opponent of the Quay to Quay path. He wrote a letter to council on Dec. 13, criticizing the city for its failure to budget for trail improvements and regular maintenance.

READ MORE: ‘New’ Dry Creek path falls into disrepair in Port Alberni

“Before spending millions of taxpayer dollars on a new path…the city should be investing in improving and maintaining its existing walking infrastructure which includes sidewalks as well as trails,” Fraser said.

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