The City of Port Alberni could be putting more than one million dollars into the beautification of Upper Third Avenue.
Third Avenue, between Argyle Street and Mar Street, was identified in Port Alberni city council’s strategic plan as a “priority” street. During a meeting of council on Monday, Jan. 27, council voted to proceed with a beautification project for the area.
Manager of planning Katelyn McDougall and Michael Skene of WATT Consulting presented three options to council on Monday, all of which would reduce traffic flow down to two lanes and change angle parking to parallel parking.
“What we are aiming to do is look at the angle parking as a way of increasing more public area,” explained Skene.
Skene emphasized that the improvements are not just about beautification, but revitalization—which includes transportation, placemaking and green infrastructure.
Council voted unanimously to endorse the first option, which will have wider (4.8 metres) sidewalks, separated bike lanes and 1.8 metres of green space, including trees and street furniture. It was the lowest cost option, with a price tag between $1.25 and $1.5 million, while also providing buffered bike lanes, green space and additional public space. Mayor Sharie Minions said on Monday that these costs could be reduced if the city performs some of the work in-house.
“Once a design concept is endorsed by council, staff will be able to go back and do some further work on developing a detailed design,” said McDougall, adding that this will allow staff to bring forward a more specific cost estimate.
The city will also be applying for a $400,000 BC Active Transportation Grant.
Minions said that she has already been in contact with the Uptown Merchants Association, which has been advocating for pedestrian improvements for Third Avenue for years.
“They were very excited about that idea,” she said. “I think we have their general support, but that said, we certainly can keep talking to them going forward.”
Councillor Cindy Solda asked about trucks travelling through Third Avenue, which has been a concern for council in the past.
“I think we’re already seeing a lot of the trucks moving out of the downtown,” said Wilf Taekema, director of engineering and public works. “If it becomes a more busy, vibrant pedestrian area, I think the trucks will move.”
Although council on Monday voted to move forward with the beautification project, the funding will be determined at a later date.