Carleton Place council held a special session of their committee of the whole on Jan 7 to discuss the upcoming Bridge Street reconstruction and plan for a public meeting on the topic on Jan 27. In December of last year, council first heard of a major jump in the cost projections from $1.4M to $2.1M for the rehabilitation which is planned for 2021 to coincide with the replacement of the town’s central bridge. Committee chair, councilor Toby Randall explained that this increase was a direct result of input from a working committee consisting of town staff, councilors, BIA and Chamber of Commerce representatives. This committee met twice in 2019 and completed walking tours of the business section with consultants from RV Anderson Associates Limited.
The project would entail road resurfacing, new sidewalks, converting the two existing ‘courtesy’ crosswalks to fully legal pedestrian crossings, adding one new crosswalk near the banks, and replacing trees and other sidewalk furniture such as benches and waste containers. Director of public works Dave Young spoke at the meeting to indicate that his office had been in touch with area municipalities such as Renfrew and Arnprior where their downtown sectors had recently received major upgrades. They reviewed budgets, scopes of work, and how accommodations were made for affected businesses among other concerns. Later in the meeting Mayor Doug Black indicated he had been in touch with Lindsay Wilson, Arnprior’s marketing and economic development officer who was willing to come to Carleton Place to discuss how their project was planned and executed.
Young reported that in the area towns he contacted, the landscaping portions of their projects varied in costs from 15-35% of the total. Carleton Place’s Bridge Street estimates for landscaping came in at 20%. Councilor Jeff Atkinson, who is a member of the working committee, suggested that the town budget the project with a $2.5M cap, noting that new home and business tax assessment revenue could easily pay for the costs. Deputy Mayor Sean Redmond noted that the last Bridge Street rebuild was 40 years ago and if this one lasted as long it would work out to a very reasonable investment in terms of a per annum price. While the overall price tag was mentioned by all members of the committee during discussions, no major opposition was presented to the price tag. CAO Diane Smithson noted that this type of work would be applicable for provincial grants such as the Rural Economic Development Fund.
The plan for the public consultation session, to be held at the small upper hall of the Neelin Street Arena on Jan 27th from 4-7 pm, is to provide detailed costings of each feature of the project and to learn public opinion on what the priorities should be.