Big changes are coming to enhance, beautify and improve the safety of the main entranceway into Chemainus.
Residents and business people got their first look at the Municipality of North Cowichan’s detailed plans for the Chemainus Road corridor upgrade project during a meeting Tuesday at the Chemainus 55+ Activity Centre.
The upgrading of the portion of Chemainus Road between Henry Road and Victoria Street isn’t a surprise. It’s been in the works for a considerable period of time as part of the municipality’s Chemainus Town Centre Revitalization Plan dating back to 2011.
Community input was received before North Cowichan formulated its plans, taking all aspects of vehicle, pedestrian and cycling requirements into account. There are many bells and whistles included, with the long-anticipated and debated roundabout at River Road and Chemainus Road that required land acquisition to extend the intersection as the star attraction.
The road upgrade will also include: major stormwater, sewer and water utilities work; road widening; cycling lanes and streetscape improvements. Part of the plan is to make an improved connection for motorists and pedestrians, who’d like the community to become more walkable.
Features to help make the corridor more attractive include: benches, decorative street lamps, landscaping and grass boulevards, paver stones, garbage receptacles and signage.
“The theme of all the street furniture will match Waterwheel Park,” explained North Cowichan’s manager of engineering Barb Thomas.
A timeline has been established for the work, beginning in late September with construction for sewer main replacement and new storm mains. Construction will start for water main replacement by late October or early November followed by partial sidewalk repairs necessitated by the underground construction in late November.
“Construction will not occur through the winter,” said Thomas. “We’ll leave it all nice and tidy for you, patch the gravel and start again in the spring.”
Construction for road surface improvements commences in the spring of 2020 and the estimated completion will be fall 2020.
Concerns about traffic flow during construction were expressed at the meeting by residents living in the vicinity of the work zones.
“There will always be (at least) single-lane alternating traffic,” Thomas indicated. “There will be some delays. That will be unavoidable.”
“We can shift traffic from one side to the other by eliminating parking during construction,” added director of engineering Dave Conway. “For the most part we’re able to maintain two-way traffic on Chemainus Road.”
Randy Huber of the Chemainus Theatre asked about the number of parking spots along Chemainus Road when the project is completed. Those spots are significant to the theatre during performances.
“The parking spaces will be slightly modified from where it is today,” said Conway.
More formal parking stalls will be created on both sides of Chemainus Road to better organize street parking for businesses and tourists, but there won’t be a larger number of them.
For now, the project ends at Victoria Street and no alterations will be made to that intersection. Plans are in the works for another roundabout there, however, in a future phase.
Many more details on the project can be found on the North Cowichan website.