By Trevor Busch
Town council has signed off on sidewalk improvements proposed by a property owner to enhance the aesthetics of a building entrance area at 5402 50th Avenue.
“We’ve had a proposal come forward from Communities in Bloom and the owner of the building there to try to do some enhancements to that corner,” said CAO Cory Armfelt, speaking at town council’s May 23 regular meeting. “What they’d like to do is have us assist them in removing the concrete from that corner, and then the private contractor would go in and replace that concrete with bricks, to make that corner look a little bit more neat, and then some planters for flower beds there. I kind of look at it as a public-private partnership scenario.”
A public request was submitted to public works and planning and economic development to rebuild the sidewalk and add planters in front of 5402 50th Avenue (currently Cardston-Taber-Warner MLA Grant Hunter’s office), with cost being primarily covered by the building owner.
“It will be a nice overall view for the downtown area with an upgrade, and I think it fits in well with the upgrades that have been done in the past,” said public works director Gary Scherer. “It would benefit the area, that’s for sure.”
Town public works will assist in covering some costs for contracted services. Administration has reviewed drawings of the proposed improvements without objection.
“We just need to make sure with this — this is a very nice gesture to beautify — but we also need to make sure that everyone is treated the same, that there’s no preferential treatment given to anybody just because they’ve decided to buck up,” said Coun. Randy Sparks. “There’s standards that need to be followed regardless, and it seems like more and more things are getting downloaded to the recreation staff for downtown. It may sound easy to say yes, we’ll take care of watering that, but what happens if next week down by the old Dairy Queen that whole three blocks decides to do the same thing, and they want it watered? Because that could happen. We have to be very careful how we stretch our departments within the Town of Taber. Even though this is a wonderful thing, it’s not the town initiating it.”
Administration recommended completing a servicing agreement to ensure improvements are completed in accordance with the plans, and maintained for a two-year period.
Coun. Laura Ross-Giroux was critical of what she viewed as a haphazard approach to downtown improvements, and advocated for a more coordinated plan for the area.
“It seems to me like we’re doing downtown improvements piecemeal. We’ve got one downtown intersection that hasn’t been upgraded out of the four, now we’re going to skip over and do this corner, and then in the future we’re going to go north of 50th (Avenue). It seems so willy-nilly, there’s no planning to any of this. I’m all for improvement, but it seems to me a very nonsensical way of doing it.”
Following discussion, town council voted unanimously (4-0) to accept as information a public request for sidewalk improvements at 5402 50th Avenue, and to approve the sidewalk improvements and authorize CAO Cory Armfelt to enter into a servicing agreement to ensure improvements are completed and maintained. Coun.(s) Jack Brewin and Rick Popadynetz were absent from the meeting.
“Any time a private developer wants to come and enhance the town’s facilities, I think we should welcome that, because it’s not coming out of our capital reserves,” said Coun. Joe Strojwas.