PORT HAWKESBURY: Municipal officials are moving ahead with a project to transform a central thoroughfare.
An open house was held on Monday for the Destination Reeves Street project at the Port Hawkesbury Yacht Club.
“The plan for the open house is to provide the public and businesses the opportunity to come in and ask some more targeted questions should they choose to, and to take a look at what all the different plans are for Destination Reeves Street,” said Port Hawkesbury mayor, Brenda Chisholm-Beaton.
Recently, the town has hosted smaller consultations with local business leaders.
“There was actually really phenomenal feedback and I think everybody walked away stating that they had a renewed sense of optimism for the future of the town,” said Chisholm-Beaton.
Town officials, engineers, designers, and steering committee members were in attendance to discuss the project and receive feedback. Several stations were set up so the public could gather information on various aspects of the project.
Changes to the street itself will come under the direction of the Department of Transportation and Infrastructure Renewal (NSTIR). NSTIR’s portion of the project will include modifications to intersections, new designated turning lanes, and changes to the entrances and exits to businesses.
Chief Administrative Officer Terry Doyle says the focus is on safety and he hopes the new design changes will help improve efficiency and decrease accidents, while preventing instances of speeding within the town.
The town will oversee the other components of the project, including signage, improvements to storefronts, and a proposed gateway park, as well as an active transportation lane which will extend from the Nova Scotia Community College into the town. Although details are still in the working stages, the new lanes will provide safer access for pedestrians and cyclists. Currently, town officials are considering physical barriers which will clearly delineate the active transportation lanes. The town is currently working to connect Reeves Street to the Blue Route Nova Scotia Program, an initiative of Bicycle Nova Scotia and the provincial government to create a continuous network of cycling lanes that will eventually connect the entire province.
Doyle said the Reeves Street project has recently taken some important steps forward. This week, Conrad Taves and Vibe Creative Group have been contracted to start work on the Reeves Street Facade Program. The program encourages local commercial building owners to invest in storefront renovations by providing matching grants to cover a portion of the costs.
“We have hired a facade design team, which is a big step for us,” said Doyle. “In the new year… the team will be meeting with all the local business owners, especially those who have expressed interest in moving forward.”
Town officials say that a portion of the town’s annual infrastructure funding through the provincial government has been designated for the project and it will not result in an increase in residential or commercial taxes.
Mayor Chisholm-Beaton says the town hopes to begin construction in 2018.
“I think we’re still on track,” said Chisholm-Beaton. “I think you’re going to see something happening in spring and summer.”