Downtown undergoing construction
Okotoks: Minor headache for business owners, pedestrians
Thursday, Aug 28, 2014 12:58 pm
Taking a stroll downtown will be a bit more challenging for the next month, as crews work to repair sidewalk paving stones along Elizabeth St. from Southridge Dr. to Centre Ave.
The project will begin in early September and construction is expected to last until mid–October.
The paving stones were laid 12 years ago on engineered soil, but since then the ground has settled and heaved from tree roots causing the paving stones to lift.
“The main objective is to mitigate tripping hazards,” said Town of Okotoks senior engineer Jeremy Huet. “Right now those stones are lifting and people could trip on them.”
He explained that crews will be taking the stones out and excavating the ground, then filling it with concrete and replacing the stones. Crews will work in 50m sections, and the process is expected to take thee or four days at a time, depending on the weather.
Crews will also be installing cast iron grates at the bases of the trees on Elizabeth St, which will give the roots more room to expand. Unfortunately the frames haven’t arrived from yet, but the crew needs to install the frames before winter comes so the grates can be placed easily once they arrive. Until then, the trees will likely be surrounded by plywood until the grates can be installed.
While the construction won’t affect traffic, several parking spots will likely be reserved in front of businesses to make room for the crews to work.
An open house was held on Aug. 20 for business owners along Elizabeth St. to come and ask questions about the project. Jerusha Francisco, owner of Yogadown yoga studio, said she felt inclined to go to the event to get a better understanding of how the construction will impact her day-to-day operations.
“It was more just getting clarity on where the work was being done and if it would affect my business or not,” she said. “It was about parking or access to my front door. In the description it said work would be up to 5 feet (from the business), so I was like ‘I should just go get clarity so I can see what’s shown and just to understand it so I can prepare myself.”
While Francisco said she isn’t thrilled about the construction, she is glad that the town is working both to make downtown safer, and to make it more visually appealing.
“It’s prevention for the future so if they left it for another year it could be an even bigger hazard. It is what it is,” she said. “I feel fine about it. I actually was saying that I felt the areas around the trees felt unfinished to me… so them doing this will be more aesthetically pleasing and look more finished.”
For business owners looking for additional parking during construction, the Town recommends using the parking spaces on Riverside Dr. facing Ethel Tucker park.