THE city has revived plans for a second overpass over CN’s tracks running through the middle of the city.
This time it’s not one for vehicles, but one for pedestrians and is contained in a wide-ranging development plan being proposed by the city for the barren industrial lands stretching west of the Sande Overpass along Keith Ave. to Kenney St. and beyond.
The pedestrian overpass location being suggested would be Munroe St., approximately halfway along the nearly 50 acres on the north side of Keith Ave. which once contained a sawmill complex.
Based on plans now being studied by the city, the property that would be devoted to industrial-use only would change to a mixed-use neighbourhood that includes apartments or townhouses, commercial businesses, hotels, cultural institutions and green spaces.
At a council session this month, city councillor Lynne Christiansen noted that over the years, the Munroe corridor was used as an unofficial path connecting the south and north sides of the city.
“That was, historically, kind of a natural thruway where most people from the Keith Estates would walk through to the two high schools,” she said. “Even before the overpass, you’d just cut through the mill yard and even after [when you didn’t want to walk all the way around].”
She also said she was pleased the proposed new neighbourhood would be termed “Keith Estates.” That’s what that neighbourhood was called in the past, she said, but gradually people began referring to the whole area south of the tracks as simply “the south side”.
Responding to questions about the location of the pedestrian overpass – some councillors envisioned a walkway at Kalum St., east of the Sande Overpass – city director of development services David Block said that Kalum was not part of the area looked at for this particular plan, and that a pedestrian overpass at Munroe does not supersede the potential for a vehicle one at Kalum or to the west of the Sande Overpass.
Munroe was a logical location for a pedestrian walkway in the to-be-reinvigorated neighbourhood, explained planner Leighton Ginther of Urban Spaces.
It’s the consulting firm hired by the city to plan for the redevelopment.
Ginther said the location is about the halfway point of the area and would allow students who live on the south side to easier access schools on the north side.
A pedestrian overpass is the type of project the city could ask developers to contribute to, added Ginther.
More than one person at the session brought up the need for a second traffic overpass and/or a redesign for the Sande Overpass.
Block said that that was beyond the scope of the current review, but the concerns were noted. And Ginther indicated those concerns and potential solutions would be included in the final plan, which would then be forwarded to the provincial ministry of transportation.