The owner of Shuswap Park Mall wants Lakeshore Drive in downtown Salmon Arm kept open beyond Aug. 31.
Part of the contact agreed upon by the company building the Ross Street Underpass is to open up Lakeshore for July and August to accommodate the tourist season.
However, Bill Laird, a developer and owner of the downtown mall along Lakeshore which contains the Salmon Arm Liquor Store, wrote a June 10 letter to city council asking that the roadway be kept accessible past the planned opening, “with periodic closures only if necessary.”
“Shuswap Park Mall has been updated regularly by city staff regarding construction progress and has cooperated with a number of change requests to accommodate storm drainage and placement of certain construction elements,” Laird wrote.
“Our immediate concern is the loss of income our tenants have sustained so far during construction. Mr. Erickson in particular has kept us all informed of the significant ‘contribution’ he has made to to date. The Liquor Store currently has a comprehensive advertising plan in place to entice customers back to his business. It would be very unfortunate if the road were closed again and the Christmas season was lost for a second year.”
Laird attached a map to his letter showing parking along the north side of Lakeshore designated as a construction zone – “which leaves room for uninterrupted 2-way traffic and parking along the south side,” he wrote.
Coun. Kevin Flynn, who is the city’s rep on the Downtown Salmon Arm (DSA) board, introduced the letter, saying the issue of Ross Street Underpass construction came up at the previous week’s board meeting, as it does every meeting.
Flynn began by saying he wanted to pass on thanks from the DSA’s board and staff to city staff and the contractor, “because Rob (Niewenhuizen) and his team, Jenn (Wilson) and all of them, have been excellent to deal with, the communication has been excellent and I believe the contractor has been excellent.”
He said correspondence has been received in the past from some of the tenants of Shuswap Park Mall, “but we now have a letter from the owner.”
“I don’t think his request is unreasonable,” said Flynn. “I don’t do major construction projects on a regular basis so I’m not exactly an expert, but I think really the tone of the letter is very happy that it sounds like the contractor is going to honour their commitment to open Lakeshore for July and August. I think that’s great news. I think really what Mr. Laird, who is the owner of that property and one of the key people on the Downtown Salmon Arm board is asking, is if after the summer it could be, instead of full closure, closures as needed.”
Flynn said he thinks it’s important as a community to try to continue to support the people who have been impacted the most by the construction and to try to minimize the impacts as much as possible moving forward.
“Mr. Laird has been in business forever and understands there’s short-term pain for long-term gains; he’s been a huge proponent of the underpass and still is. He just is hoping that we can work with him and the tenants down there to close less than we’re open.”
Mayor Alan Harrison responded: “You know, I really appreciate the respectfulness of this letter. The third to last paragraph says, ‘We are writing to request that every effort be made to keep Lakeshore open beyond Aug. 31, 2022…’
“Mr. Laird has worked closely with our director of engineering and public works, so it’s a request not a demand…”
Harrison concluded: “I know that staff will continue to work with Mr. Laird and Downtown Salmon Arm to do their utmost to try to not only build the underpass but to keep the road open as much as we can.”
Flynn added a comment regarding traffic flow.
“I think one of the things talked about by DSA – I’m not involved staff to staff, is if that lane could be used to keep access even if Lakeshore is closed.”
City staff were not asked to comment at the meeting regarding Laird’s request.
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