Colwood plans to spruce up its section of Island Highway – also known as the Colwood strip – before time runs out on a government grant.
The project would extend sidewalks and bike lanes along both sides of the road from the Great Canadian casino to Wale Road. The work would flow into new sidewalks sections installed by View Royal and West Shore Parks and Recreation.
Work also includes creating a crosswalk with warning lights across five-lane Island Highway, on the south side of the vehicle entrance to the recreation centre.
“This area is our main entrance to the city,” said Coun. Judith Cullington. “With all the work done by View Royal we’re starting to look like a poor cousin in comparison.”
Colwood council gave the go-ahead for its engineering department to tender the project. The City will match a $395,000 provincial grant with the same amount of cash accumulated from road development cost charges. The project needs to be finished by March 31, 2012 or the grant expires.
City engineer Michael Baxter stressed that the project won’t bump up taxes in 2012 or cause an increase in the roads maintenance budget. It will be Colwood’s largest capital expenditure since completing Wale Road in 2007, he noted.
The $395,000 grant was originally designated for sidewalks and bike lanes on Metchosin Road, but the City failed to allocate matching funds. Meanwhile, improvements near the recreation centre and along View Royal’s portion of Island Highway pressured Colwood to find ways to clean up its part of the strip.
“Work the rec centre and View Royal have done has put us in the position of being the missing piece that encouraging walking in that area,” Baxter said. “And that area needs a crosswalk.”
The gap between existing crosswalks on Island Highway, about one kilometre, is too far, especially for people walking out of the rec centre and looking access businesses on the other side of the road, Baxter said.
The tender will also seek prices for elements of landscaping eligible under Colwood’s existing gas tax grant. Councillors stressed to Baxter that the new sidewalks should have proper landscaping.
“People will appreciate that section of road if it looks nicer,” said Coun. Gordie Logan. “It’s not a pretty place to be yet.”