Although the city was unable to obtain funding under the Canada 150 grant, an ambitious path project linking the west end of St. Thomas to the east side along its southern boundary will march ahead as planned.
The South Path Connectivity Project involves a 4.2 km multi-use asphalt trail that will connect with the existing London & Port Stanley Rail Corridor in the west and extend the existing OPS recreational to Elm Street in the east.
The unsuccessful federal funding grant bid means the project will now be undertaken in four phases, with support from the Public Health Agency of Canada (PHAC) and a pair of city developers.
The involvement of PHAC is a unique pilot project for Health Canada “showing them that strong relationships between municipalities, developers and health units can foster connected communities,” wrote David Jackson, manager of capital works, in his report to council.
At Monday’s meeting, council approved the winning construction bid in the amount of $369,771 submitted by R. Russell Construction. The city will contribute $245,000 from its infrastructure reserve.
The original approved budget was $1.5 million, with the estimated cost now pegged at $1,382,000. The city has received $150,000 from PHAC for operational costs related to the project.
Phase 1 – a 1-km stretch linking Sauve Avenue to Penhale Avenue – will begin this spring with the city funding this portion of the project.
Jackson calls this “the heart of the path as it connects the existing Lake Margaret gravel trail to surrounding neighbourhoods at Penhale Avenue.”
Included are pedestrian crossings at Lake Margaret Trail, Bill Martyn Parkway and Fairview Avenue, with completion expected this summer.
Phases 2 and 3 will be built and funded through an agreement in place with Elgin St. Thomas Public Health, Doug Tarry Limited and Hayhoe Homes, with additional financial support from PHAC.
Phase 2 will link Penhale Avenue with the existing Orchard Park South (OPS) recreation trail, a distance of 700 metres and will be completed this year.
Construction of Phase 3 will begin this year and be completed in 2018, connecting Sunset Drive to the Lake Margaret Trail and Sauve Avenue, a distance of 2.5 km.
The final phase will extend the OPS recreational trail north to Elm Street and will be completed this year, paving the way for a future cycle loop of the city. This stage is to be funded by the city, development charges and Doug Tarry Limited which will undertake construction to be completed this year.