The most comprehensive upgrade and beautification program Nelson has seen since the 1980s revitalization of Baker Street kicked off this week.
After three years of planning, and numerous rounds of public input and revision, the City of Nelson’s Stores to Shores downtown revitalization project is officially underway.
“It’s such an exciting and important time for Nelson,” says Mayor Deb Kozak, “and for all the people who’ve worked so hard to bring this project from concept to kick-off, it’s even a little emotional — in a great way. We’re writing a brand new 21st century chapter in our city’s history.”
The eight-month project has been awarded to local company Maglio Installations, one of five bidders on the project.
Work is already underway, with a restoration and demolition crew on the job at IODE Park along with an initial site survey of Hall St.’s 300, 400 and 500 blocks.
“There’s going to be a considerable amount of work happening right off the bat,” says Colin Innes, the city’s director of public works and utilities. “We’ll be going full tilt.”
Local residents have already noticed city crews excavating stretches of the 300 block of Hall to relocate some of the shallower infrastructure on the street — Telus and Shaw communications lines. This is required in order to improve sight lines and safety at the Hall and Vernon intersection.
Work on IODE Park is slated to end in time for the May long weekend.
For July, August and September, construction efforts will move back to the 300 block and the intersection of Hall and Vernon streets. The 300 block will be closed to traffic during that time.
Innes is assuring business owners, motorists and pedestrians that the intersections of either Hall/Vernon or Hall/Baker will be open at all times — one of the construction contract’s stipulations is that the two important crossroads can’t be closed at the same time. That will ensure traffic flow to the eastern end of the downtown core will be maintained.
Kozak says she wants businesses and residents on and around Hall St., the east end of Baker and Vernon to know the city is committed to assisting them through the Stores to Shores overhaul.
“City staff and council will be working with our business owners and residents to ensure customer traffic and access to their stores and homes is well-maintained straight through the construction period,” says Kozak.
Here’s what’s happening on the public and business information front:
• A promotions and business-awareness program slated to start next week will see a dozen or more signs placed in and around the Hall, east Baker/Vernon area, aimed at ensuring the public knows that while the road may be closed, businesses are open.
• An information rack card has been designed for local businesses’ front counters. The cards will outline details and benefits of the Stores to Shores program and info contacts, for locals and visitors alike.
• There’ll be a round of how-to marketing tips for businesses to implement to ensure customer traffic is steady during the project’s duration too.
• Weekly updates on progress and traffic changes will be provided at Facebook/storestoshores, the city’s website nelson.ca, along with profiles on Hall St. businesses, the thoroughfare’s history and a series of in-depth looks at the thoughtful and beneficial design aspects that the revitalization will provide to Nelson for decades to come.
Aimed at establishing stronger, safer pedestrian and traffic connections between Baker St. and the lakefront, the project will happen in conjunction with the required upgrade of Hall St.’s infrastructure — including water and sewer lines, electrical and fibre-optic, new pavement, sidewalks and stairways.
Over 60 percent of the project’s budget will be allocated to required infrastructure upgrades, the other third will go towards the Stores to Shores vision.
Below: Mayor Deb Kozak, Maglio Installations’ Terry Maglio and City of Nelson public works and utilities director Colin Innes were on hand Monday afternoon for the first day or work. Darren Davidson photo