The City of Duncan is moving forward with several capital projects downtown, including sidewalk improvements on Duncan Street (pictured), during the slowdown caused by the COVID-19 crisis. (Robert Barron/Citizen)

The City of Duncan is moving forward with several capital projects downtown, including sidewalk improvements on Duncan Street (pictured), during the slowdown caused by the COVID-19 crisis. (Robert Barron/Citizen)

Duncan using empty streetscape to move forward with public works downtown

Some projects scheduled for later in the year accelerated due to COVID-19 quiet

The City of Duncan has decided to move forward with a number of planned construction projects in the downtown core while most shops are shut down during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Council had originally directed staff on March 16 to postpone planned downtown construction projects, other than the replacement of a water main on Duncan Street, to allow for recovery time for downtown businesses during the health crisis.

But that directive was changed on March 31 when it was decided at a special council meeting to have staff attempt to complete some planned downtown construction projects, including planned sidewalk improvements on Duncan Street and improvements at the intersection of Government and Kenneth streets, during the shut down.

RELATED STORY: CITY OF DUNCAN LOOKS TO PUBLIC FOR IDEAS FOR WHISTLER STREET, DOWNTOWN PARK

Mayor Michelle Staples said council’s thinking has changed over the last few weeks as the shut down continues, and determined that, in fact, this may be a good time to move forward with the projects.

“When we decided to defer the projects, it was pretty unclear what was happening at the time,” she said.

“We didn’t know then whether everyone would be required to stay at home so we didn’t want to start projects in which we would be shutting down streets. But, now that a few weeks have passed, we decided to revisit where we were at and see what we can do incrementally.”

Duncan CAO Peter de Verteuil said the improvement of sidewalks on Duncan Street is already underway, and work on the water main is substantially complete.

RELATED STORY: DUNCAN LOOKS FOR PLANS FOR WHISTLER STREET, OLD RED BALLOON STORE SITE

“The remainder of the underground works should be completed by mid to late April and the surface works, including sidewalks, rain garden, and EV charging stations, will follow in phases, depending on the length of the shutdown,” he said.

“The improvements at the intersection of Government and Kenneth streets may proceed in stages, and the detailed design is still being completed. The replacement of the water main is the first priority [with this project].”

De Verteuil said the project will include repositioning of the crosswalk at the intersection in a safer location, realignment of the travel lanes, and improvement to the public space with a rain garden incorporated into the landscaping design.

He said the project was to begin in late July and last two to three months.

“The city will only start phases early if they can be substantially completed during the shutdown, and remaining phases will be postponed,” de Verteuil said.

RELATED STORY: CITY OF DUNCAN DENIES SPORTSPLEX FUNDING REQUEST FOR NEW FIELD HOUSE

De Verteuil said work on the laneway between Third and Fourth streets will also be targeted during the shut down, and design phase is underway.

“This project includes installation of a drainage system and then paving of the lane,” he said.

“The project was to begin in May and last about one month. The city will only start each component if they can be substantially completed during the shutdown.”

The city’s capital budget for 2020 proposes $5,923,561 in capital expenditures for the year.

Of this, $3,304,213 is for general-fund projects, $616,274 is for sewer fund projects and $2,003,074 is for water-fund projects.

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robert.barron@cowichanvalleycitizen.com

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