Noting the design “strikes a balance between the project requirements and feedback from local residents,” the revised plans and a status update was presented to Comox council for a detailed design of Robb Avenue.
Derek Jensen of McElhanney Consulting Services told a packed council chambers at Wednesday’s committee of the whole meeting more than 60 public comments have been received and many design changes were made based on public input.
In December, community members told council the Robb Avenue Community Group felt there have been significant barriers to the major infrastructure project slated to begin its first phase in 2016.
Jensen, whom the town commissioned to provide engineering services, said 52 street trees are planned along the corridor to replace 12 existing fruit trees that will be removed.
“Older trees are in a state of decline and are in poor-to-fair health,” he added.
He said the need for a sidewalk on the north side of Robb from Church to Pritchard Road was not necessarily warranted, and with its removal from the plan, “it does eliminate a number of tree conflicts.”
The design does incorporate parallel parking in front of the tennis courts at the Comox Recreation Centre, and it moves the crosswalk at the centre 12 metres to the west in an effort to provide better safety, he explained.
Curb bumping will be added to improve pedestrian sight lines and reduce vehicle speed.
Lori Kublik and Bill Henderson, representing the Robb Avenue Community Group, told council following Jensen’s presentation they were encouraged to hear council is listening to the community.
Henderson highlighted other recommendations from the group, such as including a third crosswalk in front of École Robb Road and speed humps to reduce traffic speed in front of the school.
Kublik asked council for a second open house to provide a full description to the community and explain why certain suggestions by the public weren’t addressed.
“We will be living with this street for a long time,” she added.
Municipal engineer Shelley Ashfield, in response to Coun. Russ Arnott’s inquiry about a second open house, asked about its purpose.
“The McElhanney presentation did a good job advising what happened and why the decisions were made. We met the school district’s needs, addressed parking and the tree-retaining program. We showed we’re listening and made changes, and for the changes we didn’t make – here’s the reasons why.”
Coun. Barbara Price asked to make a motion for a second open house, but Mayor Paul Ives noted the motion would have to come forth at a regular council meeting, as it is against procedure to make a motion out of a delegation.
“I get it – I live close to Robb. But the concerns from the public are getting into the engineering pieces,” said Coun. Ken Grant.
“We’re at a point where we have to get moving. We’re at or over budget and we’ve got time restraints. I get if people need more clarification – I don’t have a big problem with that, but there’s not enough time for more … I think we’re opening a real can of worms.”
Both Couns. Marg Grant and Hugh MacKinnon questioned what additional information staff can offer, and MacKinnon said while Comox wants to be known as a community who listens, “there needs to be an end point … and we need to have faith in our engineering staff.”