BY KALISHA MENDONSA
Citizens are soon to see changes downtown, through the Main Street Improvement Program, set to begin construction in April.
According to the official web site for the project, lacombe.ca/mainstreetproject, the sanitary sewer main is going to see some necessary upgrades this year.
The City has recognized this work is unavoidable and has taken into consideration other upgrades that may be necessary, pairing the work together to cause minimal disturbance to the downtown core.
This week, Engineering Services Manager Jordan Thompson hosted three information sessions for affected downtown businesses to seek input and provide information on how to minimize the impact on their businesses.
“Starting on Monday evening, we had information sessions primarily aimed at the downtown business community, giving them an opportunity to provide input and feedback on our construction plan,” Thompson said.
“We understand that the downtown business community will certainly be the group most affected by the construction and we wanted to provide the opportunity to let us know critical things associated with their businesses so we can do our best to accommodate.”
Thompson explained these accommodations would be necessary for things like delivery trucks or special times of the year that generate lots of foot traffic or may need accommodation.
For example, Thompson said certain salons, clothing stores or hair dressing businesses could be affected during the graduation season and preparing their customers for special events.
“There is a ton of information that they are able to provide us, and we offered people the chance to come down to those information events and share their concerns,” Thompson said.
“I think we’re doing our best to make all of the information available to the public, and part of that was by launching lacombe.ca/mainstreetprogram – that’s the start of our information hub. That will continue to evolve closer to the beginning of construction.”
Thompson said the City has also done mail-outs and personally handed out information to business owners who could potentially be affected during the downtown infrastructure project.
“The information is out there and available and we hope people choose to become involved and get all the information they need to have their concerns addressed by the City.”
Some of the older facilities on Main Street or in the downtown core may have had renovations completed that would be helpful to share with the City.
Thompson explained that in some of the older buildings, there are basements, stairwells, doors, windows etc. that have been covered by concrete or sidewalks and could cause issues down the line.
To prevent these renovations from causing problems, landlords, tenants and owners of businesses and properties downtown are encouraged to take a walk through their properties and check associated documents to see if there is information they might want to pass onto the City to avoid surprises mid-construction.
The construction downtown will occur in a block-to-block manner to be completed in an efficient manner.
Limiting the construction to one area at a time will minimize rain and weather effects, reduce the impact to parking and minimize the duration of work in front of anyone’s business.
Staging plans were presented during the meetings, and further information can be found online.
“Construction will begin about mid-April. The work will take up the construction season, and it’s quite a lot of work. We have dedicated crews from Pidherney’s that will be in the downtown all summer. They want to get an early start on the project, and at that time it’s usually drier weather and that will help keep construction moving along,” Thompson said.
Traffic will be detoured as necessary during the construction, and officials have recognized three types of traffic that will need accommodation. Vehicles driving through downtown with no need to stop – who will be rerouted around downtown entirely; traffic, including pedestrians, who need to stop downtown and traffic that is essential to businesses including delivery trucks and maintenance vehicles.
Thompson said the crews do not anticipate disruption to general water and sewer services.
However, the City is currently undergoing municipal service assessments to determine if there are specific issues beneath designated properties.
In the event an issue should arise, the City will engage with business owners to find an agreeable solution.
“We’re doing a few things ahead of time to plan as much as we can in advance. For the water specifically, we don’t have plans to shut down the water. If we open up the road and see a need to do so, we will set up temporary water services and do repairs. That’s a unique circumstance, though,” Thompson said.
Anyone seeking additional information can email firstname.lastname@example.org or call the engineering services department.