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Main Street project funding approved

Lac La Biche County council approves $32 million funding for downtown Streetscape

"Five years in the making, and — click."

That's how Lac La Biche County described the keyboard stroke approvals this week from council to fund the long-awaited Lac La Biche Main Street makeover.

The mayor and council voted unanimously to move ahead with the now - $32 million project to replace aging underground infrastructure in the Lac La Biche downtown, and to upgrade roadways, sidewalks, curbs and add other surface design features.

The project began in 2018 with the idea to improve the overall look of the community's downtown core during the much-needed replacement of cast-iron water and sewer pipes. The surface-level additions in the "Streetscape" plan included the widening the main street, parking stall changes, creating a one-way traffic lane down 101 Street, adding 'bulbout' sidewalks, outdoor heat lamps, bench seating with built-in wifi hotspots, coloured-concrete crosswalks, street art entrance markers at both ends of 101 Avenue, upgraded tree planters and speakers inside streetlights. At the time, the overall project had a budget of $16 million.

After years of consultations, discussions, updates, and revisions, including a change in municipal leadership in the 2021 election, a final plan was sent out for tender in 2022, still with the $16 million price tag attached. Bids for the job came back significantly higher — in some cases almost twice as much — than the budget. More discussions and consultations were held in the summer of 2022 while the project was paused. Late in 2022 another tender was sent to construction firms for the project — this time with several of the original features removed. Those bids came back to Lac La Biche County council last week, with the low bid of $26.5 million being accepted. The funding for the project will come from debenture loan agreements already confirmed by the municipality. An additional $5.5 million in contingency funding for the project will come from municipal reserve funds.

"Hopefully, this puts a big chapter behind us," said the Reutov following the vote that will see Edmonton-based Carmacks construction begin work on the project starting this spring.

The Streetscape plan was initially set into three phases. Phase one, a utility service replacement and paving overlay from 105 Street to 103 Street was completed a year ago. That project also included new curbs and sidewalks as well as upgrades to to the Richard Devonian Park. Phase two and three of the project will see the utility replacements and surface upgrades continue from 103 Street to 100 Street.

According to the approved bid, the work will take place over three construction seasons, with the contractors closing down a complete block of the construction area at a time — but still allowing for pedestrian access to the area and downtown businesses.

The $32 million will go towards: 

  • -  Remove and replace 950m of water mains

  • -  Remove and replace 830m of sanitary sewer mains

  • -  Supply and install 500m of storm sewer mains

  • -  Remove and replace 60 commercial water and sewer services

  • -  Remove and replace 1,500m of concrete curb and gutter

  • -  Remove 6,000 square meters of concrete and paver stone sidewalk

  • -  Install 7,000 square meters of brushed and stamped finish concrete sidewalk

  • -  Remove 70 existing trees, plant 95 trees with soil cells

  • -  Supply and install 26 concrete planter boxes

  • -  Remove 19,500 square metres of existing roadway and reconstruct 16,800 square metres of roadway

  • -  Overlay 1,300 square metres of existing asphalt roadway

  • -  Supply and install various decorative Streetscape furnishings and signage

  • -  Supply and install complete traffic signalization for two intersections

  • -  Supply and install decorative lighting, electrical receptacles, and associated wiring and


  • -  Set up and maintain all traffic accommodation, pedestrian and business accommodation,

    and temporary water service

Included in the contract is also a provision for environmental approvals and screening, since some areas in the construction zone are likely to have contaminated soils from historic business uses. Areas of contaminated soil were found during the first phase of the project, slowing down the construction time significantly.

Rob McKinley

About the Author: Rob McKinley

Rob has been in the media, marketing and promotion business for 30 years, working in the public sector, as well as media outlets in major metropolitan markets, smaller rural communities and Indigenous-focused settings.
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