BY RYAN WELLICOME
The City’s Main Street Development Plan was met with concern following its proposal by City administration at council’s regular meeting on Monday.
The pre-design plan was presented to council following months of consultation and surveys with the affected business community and the local public.
“Tonight administration is recommending council endorse the pre-design report as presented and is asking for council to direct administration to bring contractor pricing to council during budget deliberations,” said Engineering Services Manager Jordan Thompson.
Pricing for the project will be brought forward in council’s 2017 budget deliberations to allow the project to move forward.
The pre-design report outlines the financial implications of the project, stating that contractors estimate full implementation costs at approximately $8.4 million with $4.8 million going towards below-ground work and the remaining $3.6 million for above ground improvements.
Councillor Grant Harder voiced concern over the estimated price tag for the project. “I’m really struggling with ($3.6 million) worth of aesthetics downtown,” he said.
He explained the City has borrowed money for other projects that required attention and that he disagrees with borrowing more money in a waning economy.
“It bothers me that we are going to have to borrow money to beautify downtown during a time when there’s a lot of people losing their houses,” he said.
Harder also expressed he fails to see any unique quality in the aesthetic improvements proposed in the pre-design.
“I see a rehash of other projects that have taken place in other municipalities across Alberta,” he said. “There is nothing that is going to distinctively make it Lacombe and I’m afraid that if we make it look like every second municipality that’s undergone transformations like this in their downtown core it’s going to look like every second municipality across Alberta that has gone through the same process.”
He added he doesn’t believe the new look will enhance downtown Lacombe but detract from it.
Harder also expressed concern about the size and numbers of bulbous sidewalk ends and the validity of proposed pedestrian deterrents.
“I would like to see more design detail before embarking on this project in terms of what those pedestrian deterrents are actually going to look like and if they are going to be effective,” he said.
Councillor Reuben Konnik also shared concern over the price estimated for the above ground work, saying the price seemed high.
Director of Operations and Planning Matthew Goudy stated the estimates were obtained using typical tendering values but the price could be less than reported.
“It is likely that ($8.4 million) is likely more in the ($7 million) range,” he said.
The pricing for the project is not yet confirmed, nor is the reduced estimate. The motion to endorse the pre-design report was carried in a 4-1 vote by council.
City administration is still seeking feedback until Oct. 31st regarding the proposed improvement plan. More information regarding the plan and surveys can be found and completed at www.lacombe.ca.