Wednesday, July 25, 2007

Changes on 88th

I've previously posted on 88th Street on the east side of the city. I mentioned that it was coming to council for a decision At that meeting there was a great turnout from residents in the area and council took action on their concerns by directing staff to close 88th to address the health and safety issues caused by the road. It was all covered very well in the newspaper.

Anyhow, that meeting was Monday of last week and by Tuesday of this week a large chunk of the road is closed as per the City of Grande Prairie media release below. This will cut off a short-cut route for for many people and some are disappointed of course but in the end the fact is that 88th has always been planned to be closed as the east side developed. We heard from the developer of Copperwood at the council meeting - he supported the closure and said that 116th will soon be constructed so there will be alternate routes opening up quickly. Closing 88th now just speeds the improvement for all those residents that have had to put up with the dust and noise for so many years.

News Release
July 24, 2007

City Closes Section of 88th Street

The City of Grande Prairie is rerouting traffic off 88th Street between 122nd Avenue and Lakeland Drive effective immediately until further notice.

This move follows a July 16 City Council decision to temporarily close that portion of road until necessary repairs are undertaken to address health and safety issues. Aldermen were responding to resident concerns of increased levels of dust in recent years, resulting from higher volumes of traffic.

“In addition to entering or leaving the City via Highway 43, there are a number of other routes passenger vehicles can take instead of using 88th Street,” says Robert Carroll, Transportation Services Manager, adding truck traffic in the northern section of Grande Prairie is expected to enter or depart Grande Prairie on 100th Street.

“This move will relieve residents along 88th Street of the dust-related problems they have brought forward.”

The portion of the street between 116th Ave and 122nd Ave will remain open to accommodate construction of the Copperwood Subdivision. It is located at the northeast corner of 116th Ave. and 88 Street.

Friday, July 20, 2007

Time For Blue Box?

One of the most active discussions on my Facebook group is about curbside (or Blue Box) recycling. A few have asked if the city has ever thought about it and others chimed in to add their support for the idea.

Right now in Grande Prairie we have a neighbourhood depot system - you take your recycling to the nearest depot. As I understand it we have very good participation rate for this type of system. The cost of running this recycling program is covered by a charge on each Aquatera bill - I think it was $4.87 on my last bill. The down side to this type of system is of course that it requires me collect my own recyclables, hold on to them until they pile up to a point that I remember to finally tote them over to my nearest depot. From there there is a big truck from Recycle Plus* that visits the nine depots across the city and empties the bins.

The next step of course would be to go to a curbside pick up or blue box program where everything is picked up in front of my house on a regular basis. There is a lot of extra labour that goes into a system like this, rather than having one big truck visit the depots, you need to visit every household on a regular schedule. That extra labour makes the system more expensive to operate.

Calgary has just recently decided to move to a curbside pick up system and a lot of the discussion there was about the cost.

"The cost for the carts, trucks and other expenses would be about $50 million, which would eventually be covered by the $8-a-month fee.
Earlier this month, city council considered a proposal for a more expensive curbside-pickup recycling program. The program, which included organic waste pickup, would have cost each residential homeowner about $21 a month."

So, what is the situation in Grande Prairie? We are just nearing the end of our garbage collection contract, which ends at the end of this year - after that we will ask companies to bid on the new contract. At that time we could also choose to ask the companies to bid on providing a blue box program.

When they do it will come with a cost attached and I imagine it will be more than the five bucks a month we pay now. It's an improved service that we don't have now, so if the community decides we want it we'll have to pay for it one way or another. The question then is this: How and how much are we willing to pay?

The first is simply a question of "optics" with really only a choice of two answers: Should the cost be included (you could say "hidden") in residential taxes or should it continue to be a charge on your Aquatera bill? A split of both?

The question of how much we're willing to pay has lots of possible answers, starting at "zero" and going up. I've posted at survey on the right hand side of the blog to provide you feedback. Let me know what you think about a Blue Box program for GP.

*Previously this post had Northern CARE as the depot pick up company, my mistake was corrected by a sharp-eyed reader. Thanks!

Monday, July 16, 2007

Stop The Beetles

The Mountain Pine Beetle has come to Grande Prairie. I'd be surprised if you haven't heard about it but it's tough to imagine the impact it's really going to have on this area. For some good reading, Ken Chapman has been on top of the large scale impacts this pest is going to have on the province and our economy.

As for what you can do locally, for your trees... the city has some resources and can help you with inspecting trees and letting you know what to do.

City of Grande Prairie News Release
July 16, 2007

Prompt Action Is Crucial To Combating Mountain Pine Beetles

Local populations of adult Mountain Pine Beetles have emerged and are now looking for new pine trees to attack.

“Inspecting your pine trees weekly is vital to our success in saving as many trees as absolutely possible,” says Jim Donnelly, Integrated Pest Management Co-ordinator for the City of Grande Prairie. “Look for small 1/2” (13mm) sized pitch tubes on the trunk or fine reddish sawdust in bark crevices or on the ground around the base of the tree,” he advises.

“If the beetle attack is detected early and they are present in low numbers, then the beetles can usually be dug out and the tree saved.”

“If the tree is in your back yard, please give verbal permission for our inspector to enter your yard to inspect,” urges Jim.

“The quicker these beetles are detected the more trees we will be able to save. Help us help you!”

Landowners finding the beetles in their pine trees are asked to contact Jim immediately at 513-5226 and an inspector will come by to inspect the tree.

Sunday, July 15, 2007

88th Street

I've had a few people contact me with concerns about the condition and future of 88th Street which runs down the east side of GP past the Crystal Lake neighbourhood. Questions are often like this one I received via email:

"... can you tell me the plans for 88 St? I thought it was to be moved over ½ mile. Is there a time frame for that? The dust is so bad that we can’t sit outside and it is really affecting my asthma. There are so many big trucks using it that it gets torn up pretty bad."

Since this is a pretty important topic for those living in the area I thought I'd do a little up date on what been happening and what we can expect to see for 88th Street in the next year.

The map above is a detail from the Northeast Area Structure Planwhich was adopted in 2003. Area Structure Plans (ASPs) show the general details of how an area is going to develop and include where the transportation networks will go. In the picture above the new roads are the dashed green lines. ASPs are just one of the planning documents that the city requires for new development. In this case the new development is the Copperwood neighbourhood which is just east of Crystal Lake - if you drive up there you'll notice that there are the first signs of new roads and some fencing going up.

At Monday night's council meeting we will be looking at two bylaws dealing with closing portions of 88th. The first is Bylaw C-1178 which covers the closure of 88th from 116th Ave to 122nd Ave (in blue above) and the second is Bylaw C-1190 which covers from 122nd Ave to Lakeland Drive (in pink above). Once the roads are closed the developer will put in the new roads including 116th Street running south of Crystal Lake and the new "Copperwood Drive" (approximately the green dashed line that winds north/south just east of 88th) - I believe work on both of these has started.

88th will stay open to traffic until the new roads are constructed. When they are the developer will divert traffic to the new routes and 88th will be closed and turned in to a grassed laneway, or alley with a walking trail through it.

As I mentioned work has already started on the new roads and city staff tell me that the developer hopes to have the new roads in this year. Of course that depends on how much work the asphalt contractors can get done this summer, so it may not happen as quickly as we'd like but it is going to happen.

So, for those people who back on to the north part of 88th street change will be coming soon, no more cars or big trucks, no more dust and in fact no more road!

Wednesday, July 11, 2007

City Opens Online Survey

The city has finally created an online version of the Aquatics & Wellness Centre survey! For those of you who have already done the survey on my site - no worries, your submissions have already been sent in. . For those of you who haven't shared your opinion yet you can continue to do the survey below or go here for the city's survey.

Before you do either, check out this page for a look at the layout and features that are being proposed for the centre. Have a look at all the "stuff" and then do the survey to tell us what you think is important to have in the facility.

Saturday, July 7, 2007

Aquatics Centre Survey

The City's survey about the Aquatics & Wellness Centre (that I link to below) has no way to submit online. So I've created an version of the based pretty much exactly on the city's off-line form. Fill this out and I'll email the results in to the city for you.... and next time the city does a survey like this I'll see if we can't get it online right from the start. 

Just to be clear - when choosing how important a part is 1 means Very Important and 4 means Very Unimportant. Please choose a priority for each item.

**** The City finished it's survey on July 20th, 2007. I'll post the total results of the whole survey when they are compiled. ****

Wednesday, July 4, 2007

City to Survey Residents on Aquatics Centre

News Release
July 4, 2007

Survey Assists Regional Aquatics And Wellness Centre Development

The City of Grande Prairie is inviting community input into future phases of the regional Aquatics and Wellness Centre with a survey.

Residents can access the survey on the City’s website. It is also available at all City facilities and will be featured in an upcoming advertisement in the Daily Herald-Tribune. Responses are requested by July 20. The survey has been available at events such as Municipal Government Day and the Aquatics and Wellness Centre Open House.

Council heard a presentation from the Peace Country Wellness Facility Society at Tuesday’s meeting and invited the group to provide further input into the project.

In June, Council instructed administration to have the architectural firm of Barr Ryder complete construction drawings.

The $70 million facility would feature a 54-metre pool, an aquatics playground, an adventure river, hot tubs, a sauna/steam room, waterslides, and a 10-metre dive platform. Other planned highlights include springboards, a flow rider (wave/surfing attraction), a fitness area, meeting space, concessions, and childcare space. Future modules could include up to three field houses. The facility is on par with other multiplexes in Alberta and exceeds features in a number of areas in many cases. A complete comparison is on the website.

“The community has told us that a regional aquatics and wellness centre is an important component of the range of recreational facilities they expect in a growing, vibrant and progressive city,” says Mayor Wayne Ayling. “It is important that residents and community groups have ongoing input as this project unfolds.

“This facility is designed to meet local needs and serve as a regional and destination attraction. It will have something for the entire family, giving prospective residents and visitors even more reason to come to Grande Prairie.”


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