Salmon Arm residents will have opportunities to learn more about the proposed Ross Street underpass at public information meetings planned for May, June and August. (City of Salmon Arm illustration)

Salmon Arm residents will have opportunities to learn more about the proposed Ross Street underpass at public information meetings planned for May, June and August. (City of Salmon Arm illustration)

Askew’s owner objects to underpass

Downtown Salmon Arm voices its support for project, which will go to referendum in October

The proposed Ross Street Underpass was in the spotlight during Downtown Salmon Arm’s annual general meeting on April 18, with the membership being encouraged to vote for the project.

The city’s chief administrative officer Carl Bannister and corporate officer Erin Jackson attended the meeting in order to answer any questions regarding plans for the underpass, which will go to referendum in October.

Downtown Salmon Arm President Ron Langridge referred to a recent underpass meeting put on by the city, describing it as a “fabulous presentation” and urging people to vote for the project.

Coun. Kevin Flynn, the city’s rep on the board, encouraged those present to get informed as there will be a referendum question and noted that Downtown Salmon Arm “has taken a position strongly in support.”

However, in earlier years, some downtown businesses expressed concerns about and opposition to the plan, particularly about the effects on business during the year-long construction project.

David Askew, owner of Askew’s grocery stores, told the Observer he hasn’t changed his mind.

“I view the historic downtown of Salmon Arm with great affection. It is a place where those of us who shop and work there rub shoulders and socialize on a daily basis. In this way, I believe our historic downtown plays a crucial role in developing and maintaining the sense of inter-connectedness that we in Salmon Arm value so highly. In my view, we are being asked to approve this massive change without any real information about the impact. We are assured that the grades on Ross and Lakeshore will not be affected all that much. Has anyone seen a visual representation of the plan? I certainly haven’t.”

Regarding assertions that the downtown is solidly behind the underpass, he stated: “I can only say that my business is not and never has been. In my opinion this project represents a large expenditure of public funds for the benefit of a few and the case in its favour has not been made. I for one remain unconvinced.”

Claire Askew, a member of the DSA board, said if the underpass goes ahead, she would like it to become an interesting piece of art, much like how underpasses in Europe are transformed into public art. She thinks funds for art should be included in the initial budget.

“It could be a real draw for tourists and also something our own community members could enjoy.”

Related: Counter-petition effort underway to prevent lease deal

Related: City moves on underpass

Bannister said following the April 18 meeting the questions he was asked focused on if there would be a tax increase and what other alternatives have been considered.

The projected cost of the project is now estimated at $12.4 million. While this is a best estimate based on a 90 per cent design submission, the absolute cost won’t be known until it goes to tender. Bannister said there will be no tax increase needed to service the long-term debt of $5 million required, as a debenture debt for the Shaw Centre will be paid off in July 2019, freeing up funds. The remaining $7 million is coming from grants, a federal government grade crossing program, a $1 million contribution from CP Rail and funding reserves.

Related: Salmon Arm council plans for underpass referendum

Related: City will need to borrow more for Ross Street underpass

Regarding other alternatives, Bannister said other options the city has looked at include Fifth Street SW, a Sixth Street NE overpass, 10th Avenue NE, 10 Street SW, Shuswap Street and Fourth Street NE.

“The Fourth Street Overpass option, which has garnered some attention lately, has many obstacles/challenges which would take years to address, if ever. These include design challenges with grade and geotechnical issues, aesthetics and major property acquisition requirements (from SASCU and CP for example),” he said. “It would not be possible or responsible to try and go to a referendum on such a speculative idea.”

He said the Ross Street option is the best.

“To change direction now would result in years more of delays and may put it off for good. The property approvals that we have put in place for the Ross Street location (which have taken years to negotiate) are time sensitive, as are many of the funding sources.”

Bannister also said the costs of not proceeding with the Ross Street underpass would be substantial. He said Transport Canada could require the city to install signalized intersections at the Marine Park and Narcisse crossings to the tune of about $2 million, as well as a pedestrian overpass at 17th Street in Raven for about $3 million, “none of which would provide the gateway linkage to the waterfront that we are really after.”

In a brochure created by the city, other considerations mentioned include: the potential for a catastrophic accident at the crossings, increasing maintenance costs, the investment already made in the design, and the increasing cost of the project which has risen from $1.1 million in 1987 to $12.4 million today.


Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Salmon Arm City Hall is closing between noon and 2 p.m. effective April 12, 2021. (File photo)
Pandemic precautions change hours at Salmon Arm city hall

Public will still be able to access services online during two hours when facility closed

A syringe is loaded with COVID-19 vaccine at a vaccination clinic run by Vancouver Coastal Health, in Richmond, B.C., Saturday, April 10, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward
Interior Health announces 89 cases of COVID-19 in the region

Currently, there are 900 active cases in the region

The Red Pill Rapper performs to the crowd gathered for the Rally For Food Security at Blackburn Park on Saturday, April 10, 2021. (Kristal Burgess Photography)
The Red Pill Rapper performs to the crowd gathered for the Rally For Food Security at Blackburn Park on Saturday, April 10, 2021. (Kristal Burgess Photography)
Suspicion of ‘fake news media’ makes rally uncomfortable for Salmon Arm event photographer

More than 300 people counted at city park for ‘Rally For Food Security’

B.C. wineries are open for indoor tasting despite new provincial health regulations. Photo- 
50th Parallel Winery, Instagram.
Indoor wine tastings still allowed in B.C., not considered a ‘social gathering’

“Tasting is really just part of the retail experience. The analogy I use is you wouldn’t buy a pair of pants without trying them on.”

Scotch Creek residents on the Saratoga water system will be without water for most of April 14 as the Columbia Shuswap Regional works on water system upgrades. (File photo)
Water system shutdown planned for Scotch Creek

Residents on Saratoga system encouraged to store water in case shutdown is longer than expected

Burnaby MLA Raj Chouhan presides as Speaker of the B.C. legislature, which opened it spring session April 12 with a speech from the throne. THE CANADIAN PRESS
B.C. NDP promises more health care spending, business support in 2021 budget

John Horgan government to ‘carefully return to balanced budgets’

A five-storey, 60-unit building has been proposed for 8709 Jubilee Rd. E., Summerland. The proposal will be the subject of a public hearing on March 22. (Image by GTA Architecture)
Zoning, OCP amendments adopted for Summerland housing development

Council gives final readings for controversial five-storey, 60-unit housing development

A youth was arrested following a car crash on Wallace Street on Saturday, April 10. (Karl Yu/News Bulletin)
Onlookers laugh and jeer as B.C. teen beaten, then forced to strip and walk home

Police arrest older teen, call video shared on social media ‘disturbing’

A lady wears a sticker given out after receiving a COVID-19 vaccine at a clinic in Richmond, B.C., Saturday, April 10, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS
B.C.’s COVID-19 case count slows after last week’s peak

3,219 new cases since Friday, 18 additional deaths

North Cowichan councillor Tek Manhas did not violate the municipality’s code of conduct by posting a sexist meme on Facebook, council concludes. (File photo)
B.C. municipality to take no action against councillor who posted sexist meme

Tek Manhas’s meme doesn’t violate North Cowichan council’s code of conduct, municipality concludes

The former Summerland Asset Development Initiative building on Prairie Valley Road in Summerland was suggested as the site for a temporary transitional housing facility for the community. However, Summerland council has rejected this proposal. (John Arendt - Summerland Review)
Summerland council rejects transitional housing facility

Concerns raised about short timeline and condition of municipally-owned building

Shayla, an 8-pound black and grey Havanese, was stolen from outside a store on Banks Road on Saturday. (Contributed)
Stolen pup located, Kelowna RCMP confirms

Mounties said on April 12 that Shayla, the 8-pound, black and grey Havanese dog, has been located safe and sound

Penticton Vees continue their winning streak carrying a 5-0 win title as of Sunday night's hockey action. (Cherie Morgan/Cherie Morgan Photography)
Penticton Vees continue winning streak

Sunday night’s 6-1 win has them with five in a row since the start of the season

Most Read