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Phase four of downtown rehab project may be put on hold

People in Grande Prairie may not see more construction in the downtown core next year. During the third day of budget talks, City council decided to hold off on phase four of the downtown rehabilitation project for now.

Phase four would have seen surface treatments like trees added to 100 Avenue from 100 Street to 98 Street. Councillor Chris Thiessen says items like that cost too much and don’t add enough to downtown.

“This started out as a necessary infrastructure piece and has now turned into a let’s keep it pretty piece. It’s the pretty pieces that are costing us a lot of money and it is not stimulating investment in our downtown core by itself alone… I can not get behind any sort of treatment especially if this treatment is going to be a largely throwaway cost.”

Phase one of the project started back in 2016. The third phase which just wrapped up recently in October closed 100 Avenue for four months. There is currently no word on when or if work will continue.

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Other things talked about during day three included adding $50,000 to go towards making city buildings accessible and putting $85,000 towards Revolution Place upgrades. Train whistle removal was also brought up as well.

Deputy Director of Economic Development Brian Glavin says there is money in the budget for railway upgrades but that doesn’t cover removing train whistles. To remove them, he says around $2.5 million minimum would need to be put aside.

“Anti whistling will be approximately $2.5 million plus the cost of fencing and the cost of fencing is driven by how much fencing CN requires. It’s quite possible they could require us to go the entire length of the city which we don’t have the estimate on what that would cost.”

Glavin says he will look into the total cost and bring that back to a future committee meeting. The budget will still need to be approved at a future council meeting before any work can start.

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