story by Christina Waldner
The roughly five- to six-month project on Railway St. is sure to challenge residents – frustrated by road closures – and business owners in the area, but the Town of Crossfield is committed to ensuring the disruption is kept at a minimum. Ageing infrastructure – specifically 60-year-old sewer and wastewater pipes – is the primary reason the Town has decided to undertake this work in 2020. At the same time, however, Town administration and council are taking the opportunity to revitalize the streetscape, by adding new landscaping, benches and widened sidewalks for residents and visitors to gather and visit, enhanced lighting to improve safety in the downtown core and making the area more attractive to new businesses who are considering opening in Crossfield.
According to Chief Administrative Officer (CAO) Ken Bosman, the Town has been aggressively saving to be able to self-fund a significant proportion of the roughly $9 million project.
“The Town has borrowed about $5 million through a debenture and will fund the balance using funds we’ve saved,” he said. “Beautification of the nine-block stretch of Railway St. is considerably cheaper if done at the same time as the servicing replacement. The cost is approximately $750,000 – it would be about double that if we were to do it as a standalone project.”
Residents can look forward to a new, lively downtown where they can stop and visit with friends on the widened sidewalk, sit down on new benches to enjoy a coffee and watch the world go by or take a stroll on a warm summer evening under the improved lighting.
Open houses were held Nov. 13 and 14, 2019 where the project team was introduced, and residents and business owners could ask questions. Professional Excavators and Construction Ltd. of Calgary was announced as the contractor and Stantec – which has been acting as the project designer for the last two years – will continue on in that role.
More open houses will be held at critical points in the project. Ensuring residents and Railway St. business owners are kept informed about the project is central to its success, according to Norma Lang, economic development manager.
Community input has been a key priority in the planning of a high-quality downtown redevelopment strategy, and continuing with strong public engagement during construction is a directive we received from council.
“A multi-pronged communications strategy to keep the residents and the business community informed in a timely manner has been created. Input from our Railway Street businesses and their initial thoughts on how the construction will impact them has been factored into our communications approach.”
The Town’s Downtown Project Team has moved into offices on the second floor of the Crossfield Municipal Library on Railway St. to be front and centre during the construction. Design mock-ups and information about what is planned for Railway St. can be viewed at the project office – or stop in for a chat with a member of the project team.