Brampton’s Director of Capital works, Jayne Holmes will be recommending on Wednesday that City Council cancel the Downtown Reimagined streetscaping project and put a hold on the Region of Peel’s infrastructure replacement plan.
The Downtown Reimagined idea was first suggested by city staff in May 2016 after the Region of Peel started planning the replacement of aging infrastructure in Brampton’s downtown core. The plan was expected to revitalize the downtown and increase walkability in the area. Many businesses raised concerns about digging up streets and sidewalks over a 2 year period.
City Council approved the streetscaping plan in May 2017 with a budget of $28.9 million. Construction was originally expected to start earlier this year and arrangements had been made to move many of the city’s annual festivals and events to Rosalea Park. The city later advised that construction was being delayed until the Fall.
According to a report to be presented at the City Council meeting on Wednesday, the recommendation is based partly on the tenders for the project that have come in higher than expected. As well, a number of projects in the downtown have undergone significant developments since the January 2018 authorization by council to start the work.
“Staff recommends that Council direct staff to request that the Region cancel tender
#2018-522T, Downtown Brampton Utility and Road Reconstruction and request that the infrastructure replacement in the downtown be postponed until a strategic framework for designing, prioritizing and implementing these projects for the downtown has been developed.”
The staff report paints a picture of a complex plan in the downtown area that risks escalating costs and development schedule conflicts of the various projects in the works (the University, the Center for Innovation, the Heritage Theatre, the Transit Terminal and various private developments). To complicate matters, the newly elected council last week passed a motion that restores consideration of an LRT on Main St. through the downtown area. The final vote on this motion will be taken at Wednesday’s City Council meeting.
Council will be given 3 options to considers. Option 1 is to move forward and start work in Spring 2019 without fully understanding all of the costs. Option 2 is to “pause” the streetscaping work and continue with the Region’s required infrastructure upgrades. This option will include additional disruption to residents and businesses and raises uncertainty in servicing the various downtown development projects.
Option 3, to be recommended, will “pause” both the streetscaping and Region’s infrastructure work. This latter option gives the city more time to develop a better plan.
The city has spent $2.5M on the project to date. City staff argues that the work completed will “provide a launch point for the future downtown streetscape once the major projects have been finalized.” The $28.9M allocated to the project was to be debt financed.