Qualicum Beach director of engineering says that although the Memorial Avenue upgrades are well underway, only a small percentage is completed.
At the Aug. 15 council meeting, Weir said that construction was slowed by a discovery on east Crescent Road.
“The project has been confounded by the discovery of inaccurately located, or unreported, buried telecommunication cables. There is a major switching office of Telus or B.C. Tel just to the east on East Crescent (Road) and there is much legacy plant in the ground for which there are not good records,” Weir said. “There’s confusion over whether the cables are abandoned or still live. I think some of our problems stem from the loss of knowledgeable staff within Telus.”
While this slowed progress, Weir said that Telus and Fortis B.C. have been working with the town.
“The contract was well-structured to anticipate potential delays because of the archaeological significance to the lower sections. The contractor managed to stay busy on alternative activities,” Weir said.
Weir said Qualicum First Nation chief Michael Recalma has been working with their archaeological consultant on the area.
He added that while a significant amount of pipe as been laid, “There’s still a major amount of work to do. We’re certainly at less than 20 per cent, but one of those difficult sections has now been completed.”
The second phase, which director of planning Luke Sales said is currently underway, consists of re-alignment and improvement of the Memorial Avenue intersections at Crescent Road and Village Way.
In February, the town received $600,000 from the federal Gas Tax Fund to support the upgrades. The town is contributing $1,250,000 to the project through utility reserves and general revenue.
The upgrades are meant to address things like a deficient storm utility that overloads the fish bearing Beach Creek with polluted downtown runoff in heavy rain, a lack of safe pedestrian and cycling space, high crash rates from poor intersection design and the threat of water and erosion damage.
At the Aug. 15 meeting, councillors Anne Skipsey and Barry Avis voted against a motion for staff to apply for grants to support the downtown to waterfront upgrade and work with Streamkeepers on the conceptual design for estuary improvements at the Beach Creek outlet.
Skipsey said it felt premature to spend a substantial amount of money while the town is working on their Waterfront Master Plan.