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Low turnout at first Main Street question and answer event

County staff out number participants during info session on phase one of Main Street revitalization project

LAC LA BICHE - On July 14, Lac La Biche County officials held the first of what are expected to be many question-and-answer sessions at McArthur Place regarding phase one of the Main Street revitalization project and plans for Richard Devonian Park.  The first phase of the surface and utility project has been estimated to cost $3,790,125 and is expected to be completed by Oct. 15, or earlier, depending on weather, said Ali Memon, the manager of engineering services for the municipality.  

Although only two residents showed up for the first question and answer session, project managers, engineers and County administration made themselves available to the public.  

‘The public will give us our cue’ 

Ken Van Buul, the chief administration officer for the County, said he was not overly surprised by the low turnout as construction so far has had minimal impacts on residents. He expects the sessions will attract larger volumes as the project moves to street surface upgrades along 101 Ave. effecting more businesses, pedestrians and commuters. 

“The concept of these information sessions is meant to be ongoing through the lifecycle of phase one,” said Van Buul, noting “the public will give us our cue. If we are not seeing uptick in the turnout at the bi-weekly meetings that signals to us that we are on the right track and issues aren’t being raised. Then perhaps we would end the Q&As, but that won’t end the conversation with community members.” 

The municipality has scheduled the informal information sessions to take place bi-weekly for the duration of phase one of the Main Street project in order to provide feedback to businesses and residents as it progresses through, until completion. These sessions are meant primarily for information-gathering on the construction's impact on residents as plans for the first phase have already been drawn up and approved by council. 

Officials are also looking for more community feedback on the future design of the Richard Devonian Park, which is located at the corner of 101 Ave. and 101 A Ave. The vision for the park upgrade includes a floral garden with playful elements, picnic tables, a community chalk board, a dry creek bed, a mass naturalized planting ribbon, and a community garden. The construction for the park design is currently open for bids, but is expected to start in August and wrap up by November. 

Van Buul added that these meetings will not include discussions on the next two phases, as plans are still fluid. When concept designs reach approximately 80 per cent completion, information will be made available to County residents. 

The overall cost of Main Street revitalization project is estimated at $15.9 million, but only funds allotted for the first phase have been spent.  

So far, concrete cutting and underground conduit work has been carried out with little impact to residents, said Kelvin Wiley, a project manager for Elite Site Services. Starting next week, however, open excavation will begin as crews work to upgrade water and sewage infrastructure, as well as curbs and gutters along 101 Ave. between 103 St. and 105 St. That same stretch of road will also be resurfaced by the end of phase one. 

Although traffic will be impacted throughout construction, Wiley says, lanes will be maintained for traffic traveling east and west. He also foreshadowed temporary road blocks feeding onto the main avenue at 104 and 105 St., but adds that these closures will be short lived and nearby residents will be given notice in advance.  

The next question and answer period is expected to take place July 28 in the McArthur Room.