Potential designs for 85 Station St. were presented last month to the City of Duncan by the Portland-based architecture and planning firm Communitecture. (Courtesy of Communitecture)

City of Duncan considers applying for grant for Station Street project

New provincial program offers grants of up to $1 million

The City of Duncan is applying to the province for a grant to fund its plans for 85 Station St.

Council decided at its meeting on Oct. 19 to apply to the government’s Community Economic Recovery Infrastructure Program for up to $1 million, which could almost cover the total cost of the plans for Station Street.

The CERIP, which is intended to provide assistance with the implementation of capital projects in B.C., was recently developed by the government to help communities with their economic recovery from the impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic.

City planning manager Michelle Geneau said in a report that the designs that were presented to council last month for 85 Station St. by the Portland-based architecture and planning firm Communitecture suggested a budget of $598,982, which would be $748,727 with a 25 per cent contingency added.

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However, Geneua said staff believe that some of the project element costs, such as a public washroom and lighting, are underestimated in Communitecture’s report, and that the project’s budget with contingency will likely be closer to $1 million.

“The budget for the project will be presented in the draft capital budget in upcoming budget discussions, however this grant program would most likely substantially fund this project,” she said.

“Staff are currently reviewing and refining the project estimate for the purposes of budget discussions and the CERIP application.”

Paige MacWilliam, the city’s director of corporate services, said that while the final costs have yet to be nailed down, the deadline for applying for a CERIP grant is the end of October, so staff decided to move forward with seeking council’s direction on submitting an application for funding for the project at this time.

“Even though the city will likely be applying for a grant for the Station Street project, the designs are still preliminary and there will be further specific consultations with the Downtown Duncan BIA and business owners,” she said.

“We have also posted the concepts [for Station Street] and [Communitecture’s] Mark Lakeman’s presentation on our existing PlaceSpeak pages to allow for public feedback to be submitted.”

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Communitecture’s design for the small parcel of city-owned land on Station Street recommends a variety of seating spaces and gathering areas that would be arranged around a spacious round lawn.

Covered tables to the south and east would provide space for meals and conversations in most seasons.

Planters and benches across the street would extend the gathering space out into the urban streetscape, and food trucks parked on Station Street and public washrooms in the alley to the north would provide additional amenities.

Communitecture also designed plans for Whistler Street that were presented to council last month, and MacWilliam said the plan for Whistler Street at this point is to consult further with the impacted property owners, as it includes concepts for private lands as well as public lands, and staff have also been directed to develop more detailed cost estimates and breakdowns for this project as well for the upcoming capital budget discussions.

The design concepts for Whistler Street are also available for viewing on the city’s PlaceSpeak pages to allow for public feedback.

Geneau said the successful use of 85 Station St. during the summer for an outdoor food court, administered by the Downtown Duncan BIA through the city’s COVID-19 response grants and other grant funding, shows that the space is a community asset and can support downtown businesses with outdoor seating.

She said the project would provide a variety of year-round outdoor seating options and gathering space.

“It would also better integrate the two properties (85 Station St. and the adjacent Station Street Park) with a flexible, attractive community space and extend out into the surrounding streetscape and adjacent intersection,” Geneau said.



robert.barron@cowichanvalleycitizen.com

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