This conceptual beautification design for the pod near Tim Hortons on Highway 1 was drawn up by MMM Group

Highway will see changes this year

The largest Resort Municipality Initiative (RMI) project the Town of Golden has ever been a part of is ready to get underway this year.

The largest Resort Municipality Initiative (RMI) project the Town of Golden has ever been a part of is ready to get underway this year.

The Highway 1 Corridor Enhancement Project, originally budgeted at $1.1 million, is a beautification project that will make the highway strip, and Golden, look more inviting.

The first phase, which the Town of Golden is very close to tendering out, will include enhancement of the pod near Tim Hortons, which already contains a welcome sign (see photo).

“At the other end of the strip, where the weigh scales used to be… we’re going to completely redo that boulevard there as well,” said Jon Wilsgard, chief administrative officer for the Town of Golden.

A portion of the project’s budget will also go to an extension of the Golden Hill Pathway, which runs parallel to Highway 1.

“Last summer when we were going through the public process for the highway project, one of the things that came out of it was the desire for a pathway into the downtown. There’s still a disconnect between the strip and the town,” said Wilsgard.

He approached the Ministry of Highways and requested that the path, which currently stops dead near the overpass, be extended. They were able to come to an agreement.

“Highways did the detailed design, and will build an extension of the Golden Hill Pathway across the overpass, and down to Jepson Petroleum,” he said. It will be paved, and a metre and a half wide. The Town is covering the paving and fencing, which is coming from RMI funds.

“It’s underway right now, and it could be done before summer, in the next eight weeks.”

Since the bid for tender for the rest of the project has not gone out yet, the municipality doesn’t know what the exact cost of the project will be. However, if there are funds left over, they are also looking into enhancing the meridians along the strip. But the Town received a pleasant surprise recently when they were told how much RMI money they would be getting this year.

“It was more than we were expecting,” said Wilsgard. The Town has been budgeting RMI projects with the expectation that they would be receiving $500,000 a year. But this year their cheque says $613,236.

“That means tourism is up, so we could be getting a third more than that ($500,000) every year, which is great. We’re back to where we were in 2008 in terms of the amount of money we’re getting every year.”

The Town had hoped to break ground on two projects in 2014, the highway enhancement and a Spirit Square Amenity Hub, but the cash flow didn’t allow for both in the same year.

They are going to continue with conceptual and detailed design of the hub, which will include a permanent stage, over the fall and winter, and will aim to start building it in 2015.

There are a few other RMI projects in the works for upcoming years, including a new public art program, for which the terms of reference are currently being drawn up.

“We haven’t got it off the ground yet. But what we’re looking at is putting giant photographs on buildings,” said Wilsgard. As a way to showcase Golden, and all the talented photographers who live here, the public art program will place large frames on the side of buildings with open sides. There will be a competition to see which photographs are chosen, and the program will pay the photographer, and pay for the printing.

“Each one could be replaced every two years, and they would rotate which ones change every year. We could have five to 10 of these all around town,” said Wilsgard. The first location for the new project will be the Columbia Valley Credit Union building, which is currently undergoing renovations.