Blackburn Park set for upgrade

Adding fill: If funding approved, work could proceed in summer.

The city will be receiving more fill to push plans forward for a new soccer field at Blackburn Park.

Last summer the city accepted large amounts of fill from the SmartCentres development, which is stored on two ball diamonds.

“That will be moved if we get funding for the soccer pitch development,” Rob Niewenhuizen, the city’s director of engineering and public works, told the city’s Feb. 3 planning meeting.

Another 4,000 yards of free fill is now available from another development. Niewenhuizen later told the Observer that the soccer pitch project will cost close to half a million dollars, so would have to be done via an alternative approval process. A similar process was recently used with regard to land leases to facilitate future construction of a Ross Street underpass. The process means that if 10 per cent of the electorate signs a petition opposing an expenditure, a formal referendum must be held. If signatures from 10 per cent of the electorate are not forthcoming, the spending proceeds.

He said city finance department staff haven’t decided when that will take place, as they would like to do it when it has the least impact on expenditures.

The fill sitting on the ball diamonds would be moved over to soccer pitch #2, Niewenhuizen said, additional fill would be placed where the picnic shelter currently sits and the whole area would be raised.

Plans include removing the existing shelter and building a new one on the higher ground – and it’s hoped a funding partnership will be arranged.

The soccer field, which floods regularly, would be transformed into a high-quality pitch with drainage. The two ball diamonds would remain out of commission. Niewenhuizen said conversations with minor ball revealed they’re not used much.

Also envisioned is installing sections of the Life Trail wellness system, a paved pathway with exercise equipment, aided by sponsorship support from Telus.

Niewenhuizen says timelines haven’t been finalized, but he doesn’t foresee the project interfering with spring soccer as it would be July or August when the fill could be moved.

“The approval process takes about a month-and-a-half and I don’t foresee any activity there until mid-summer. They can use it for spring soccer.”

Fourth Street NE

Another big project in the works is the revitalization of 4th Street NE, the block in front of the downtown Tim Hortons.

“It’s basically going to be a street revitalization similar to what we’ve done throughout the downtown core, with pavers and streetlights with hanging baskets…,” Niewenhuizen explained.

It will be timed to coincide with an upgrade BC Hydro is doing, he said, likely in late September so as not to disrupt tourist traffic.

He said the project would probably be staged, and the city would let the contractor decide the best way to carry out the construction so as not to block the traffic flow coming in and out of Tim Hortons.