The dream of having an interconnected pathway system in Estevan has taken a large leap forward.
The City of Estevan is to receive nearly $2.8 million combined from the federal and provincial governments through the new COVID-19 Resilience Stream of the Investing in Canada Infrastructure Program. The announcement was made last Thursday.
The federal government will supply $1,517,600, the province will provide $1,264,540, and the city will be responsible for $1,011,860.
Estevan will direct its money towards a pedestrian corridor expansion project that will create approximately 13 kilometres of new pedestrian walkways interconnected with existing ones.
It will also install one washroom facility, a footbridge, 15 benches, solar-powered path lighting, and safety and accessibility improvements for street and railway crossings.
Rod March, the city’s manager of parks and facilities, said he has been an advocate for the pathway system since arriving seven years ago, and all council members, both past and present, have been in full support. But funds were limited, and grants he sought were not approved.
“This project was ranked very high in importance to the citizens, and it was also supported by the recreational needs assessment that we completed in 2018,” said March.
But the pathway project was on hold until an opportunity like this arose with tri-party funding.
The pathway will have several segments that will connect the community, and will have flat surfaces, moderate inclines and even some exercise running stairs, giving people different options for what they want when walking or running.
“More importantly, it will link up the areas for continuity and safety for our pedestrians, so there will be a combination of asphalt pathways as well as sidewalk development to provide that safe passage in connectivity throughout the city,” said March.
“So we tried to circle the city to the best of our ability, develop areas of opportunity to get outside and get some fresh air, and overall increase one’s fitness and well-being,” said March.
The lighting will focus on areas with the most foot traffic. The lights are very expensive, he said, and they are looking at location guidance lighting in specific areas, such as around the Churchill Playpark where it is fairly dark and foot traffic can be high. As funding becomes available in the future, more lights could be added.
Also proposed is a new building in the Westview area that would provide washroom facilities. It’s part of their goal to create more activity in the Westview area throughout the year.
“We’ll have all of this mapped beautifully once it’s all done to show the … washroom facilities along the corridor, so people can take a short walk, a long walk, and they’ll know where the washroom facilities are along the way,” said March.
The pedestrian bridge would be in west Estevan. There’s an old roadbed to the north of Highway 39 that will be turned into a pathway, and there will be an arched pedestrian bridge that will be a focal point.
“We’ve got permission from Long Creek Railroad, pending the design from the engineers, to sneak through underneath their railway, so our pathway continues on the north side of Highway 39 until you hit Sister Roddy Road,” said March.
There will also be sidewalks for the railway crossing at Sister Roddy Road and Kensington Avenue. The Kensington sidewalk is a much-needed addition.
“It’s a 1.6-kilometre stretch down there, that definitely is part of this process to ensure the safety of the pedestrians of this city,” said March.
The city engineering crew has been doing a tonne of work on the project, with the hope to start construction as soon as the tri-party agreement is in place. A few loose ends need to be tied up.
“We’re ready to go. We just need to make sure all of the funding is in place … and we’re following the parameters of those agreements,” said March.
There are some constraints on the pathways’ location, including railways, streets, waterways, private property, safety concerns, future development considerations and even city boundaries.
March expressed gratitude to the different levels of government for their support, and to Estevan MLA Lori Carr for her contributions to the application process.
“The amount of money that it would take to try to do this, it’s pretty difficult to say … we need about $4 million to make this happen. In this case, with the partners that came forward, I’m very happy to see this come through.”
Mayor Roy Ludwig said the city has been looking to improve pathways for a number of years, and the city is pleased the other levels of government have stepped forward.
“This will be a great thing, and this will give us the opportunity to connect a lot of our existing pathways and put in a lot of new pathways. When we’re done, we should have interconnected pathways throughout our city,” said Ludwig.
The plan will be to complete the project this year if possible, but it will depend on the city’s ability to get the bid completed and secure good contractor for the work.
“Hopefully that timeframe will be short because there is a lot of work to be done,” said Ludwig.
It’s believed the $3.8 million will cover the full cost of the pathway project and the other amenities.
Two other southeast communities also received funding.
The Town of Lampman will receive $205,882 from the federal government and $171,552 from the province for rink upgrades. The current compressor room, which is in need of upgraded electrical, will be renovated.
The town will contribute $137,272.
The Village of Torquay will use the money for the community centre. The project will see the village replace the roof, rafter and ceiling, boiler system and its components, and install new flooring.
The village will receive $83,860 from the federal government and $69,876 from the province, while it will contribute $55,914.