At a public information session last night, the District of Muskoka unveiled a new online platform—Engage Muskoka—where residents can get information on and share feedback about District projects and initiatives.
The information session was part of District communication efforts to keep residents informed about some major infrastructure projects slated for Huntsville’s Main Street and King William Street over the next few years.
About 40 people attended the information session, including business owners who could be affected by the projects, members of the committees involved in the projects, and Town and District staff.
The first project to launch involves upgrades to the water and sewer lines beneath King William from the swing bridge to Scott Street, along with rebuilding of the road base and driving surface. Part of the below-grade work will include a portion of the forcemain needed for the future decommissioning of the Mountview Wastewater Treatment Plant. The design contract for the work was awarded to EXP Inc. last month, with that work to be completed by the spring. The anticipated timing for construction is from late spring 2019 to late fall or early winter 2019.
The King William construction will result in partial lane closures, with the potential for periodic full lane closures, along with brief interruptions in utility service. The District will provide updates once specific dates and times are known.
The downtown streetscape and Main Street revitalization project is currently slated to begin in late spring of 2020, with completion by winter of 2020 or possibly into 2021.
Staff are currently developing Request for Proposal documents to find and retain a design consultant for the project.
The project affects Main Street from Lorne Street to John Street and includes rebuilding the water, sewer and storm sewer infrastructure, rebuilding of the road, streetscaping to revitalize the look of downtown Huntsville, and minor maintenance activities on the swing bridge like steel repainting and weatherproofing. (See a design brief about the streetscape project here.)
There will be both partial and full lane closures during the project, as well as brief interruptions in utility services. The District will communicate traffic and service interruptions once details have been determined.
Mark Misko, Director, Transportation and Engineering for the District of Muskoka, acknowledged the impact the project will have on downtown businesses and said that they plan to minimize those as much as possible.
In response to an audience member’s question regarding the timing of construction and the possibility of exemptions to the Town’s noise bylaw to expedite the schedule and avoid peak tourism season, Mayor Scott Aitchison said they would consider all options. “I think the primary objective is to make sure that we don’t interrupt July and August. July and August are pretty sacred in our calendar and I think everyone knows that, so that’s an important for I think everyone in the room,” he said. “There could be a lot of different options including starting in the spring, going later into the night, doing it in the fall. There are a lot of different ways to do it and we want to do it the way that gets it done as effectively and efficiently as possible but also with as little disruption as possible.”
Three attendees also raised questions about accessibility both during construction and after, including sidewalk elevation and access to shops.
Misko noted that it’s a concern that has come up repeatedly in community engagement sessions and that they will continue to seek input from community members. He also said the design documents produced so far are theoretical, with the final design still to be determined, and that “accessibility is a consideration we want to include in the design.”
To which Aitchison clarified, “Not a consideration, but an imperative, actually. Roll-over curbs is one part of it, but making sure that stores are more accessible is an absolutely crucial element of this.”
The Mountview project includes a new outfall between the Golden Pheasant Wastewater Treatment Plant and Fairy Lake, construction of a forcemain connecting the Mountview pumping station with Golden Pheasant, and the eventual decommissioning of the Mountview Wastewater Treatment Plant.
A public information session about the Golden Pheasant outfall was held in November 2019. (Read about that on Doppler here.) Engineering work has not begun for other parts of the project, but construction is slated to begin in 2020.
Details about all three projects—King William Street upgrades, the downtown streetscape, and the Mountview decommissioning—have been posted on the Engage Muskoka website. For more information and to register to receive updates, visit engagemuskoka.ca. You can also leave comments and feedback about these projects on that website.
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