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  • Writer's pictureESSEX FREE PRESS

Work on the Essex Centre Streetscape to commence May 1


by Sylene Argent

Members of Essex Council were pleased to officially break ground on the around $9M Essex Centre Streetscape project and improvements planned for Victoria Avenue on Tuesday morning.

Construction on the Essex Centre Streetscape and Victoria Avenue project will begin on May 1, and is planned to wrap-up in December.

“This project represents a multi-million-dollar investment of infrastructure improvements and beautification in the urban core of Essex. But more than that, it represents growth, opportunity, and the future of our Town,” Essex Mayor Sherry Bondy said, shovel in hand. “Our residents are passionate about their community, and we wanted to ensure that this project met, and exceeded, their expectations.”

The Victoria Avenue works will extend from Talbot Street to South Talbot.

In February of 2021, Essex Council approved former Deputy Mayor Meloche’s motion to direct Administration explore the option of restoring Victoria Avenue as part of the Downtown Essex Centre Revitalization project, noting the high state of disrepair. The idea was to link it with the Streetscape.

The Essex Centre Streetscape project was officially adopted in 2013. Stempski Kelly Associates Inc. were hired to consult with the public through workshops to gauge needs and desires, then draft a concept. This plan also included what was then known as the silo district and is now the Heritage Gardens Park. In 2021, Stantec Consulting Ltd. was appointed to provide engineering services to design, assist in procurement, and administer the Essex Streetscape Project.

Earlier this year, Essex Council moved to rescope the Essex Centre Streetscape project, reducing the project area on Talbot Street, from Arthur Avenue to Cameron Avenue, due to costs. The project will include a variety of aesthetic and accessibility enhancements, including AODA-compliant sidewalks and crosswalks, curbing, bicycle racks, and landscape treatments and plantings.

The light poles, in the downtown area that are excluded from the project scope are within their useful life. It is something the Town will need to complete in future Capital Budgets.

In November of 2021, Essex Council voted to endorse the flex street concept for the Streetscape project. The flex street design provides more flexibility for sidewalk patios and retail space, and will provide better accommodation for any future downtown event.

Council awarded the tender for the rescoped Essex Centre Streetscaping to J&J Lepera Infrastructures Inc., in the amount of $9,149,219.21, at the March 20 Council meeting, in addition to approving the Victoria Avenue roadworks. Stantec Consulting Ltd. was approved to provide engineering services to conduct engineering inspection and maintenance services, for a total cost of $506,093.18.

“From the beginning, we requested input from residents and small business owners to ensure that they were at the heart of the project. We value their feedback, and we are excited to see the concept become a reality,” Bondy commented. “We know that construction can be challenging at times, so I would like to thank everyone for their patience as we work through this project. And most importantly, I ask that you continue to support our local businesses, as they will remain open during the construction period.”

Previously, Director of Infrastructure, Kevin Girard, noted the works include $300,000 for a Union Water watermain replacement on Victoria Avenue and $108,000 in telecommunications conduits. Both are recoverable.

Information from the Town of Essex noted the project was made possible with a nearly $250,000 contribution from the Ontario Ministry of Agriculture, Food, and Rural Affairs’ Rural Economic Development (RED) grant program. Funds from the grant support the cost of landscaping and street furniture. In addition, $750,000 in federal funding was received by the Canada Community Revitalization Fund.

There is an Essex Streetscape Project Hotline, 519-776-7336 ext. 1145, residents and business owners can use to ask questions of the project. Submissions can also be made online through the Online Report a Problem portal at www.essex.ca.

In addition, more information can be found www.essex.ca/streetscape

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