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Downtown transit exchange project receives nod of approval from city

The proposed transit exchange was designed to support future transit service expansion and allowed the city to better serve customers of the West Kootenay Transit System.

Everyone is on-board for the new transit exchange for the city’s downtown after the BC Transit business case for the project was approved by the city.

BC Transit had its grant application — under the Investing in Canada Infrastructure Program (ICIP) — approved last May for the business case, working with the city to develop a design for the Nelson Downtown Exchange project on the 300 block of Victoria Street.

The proposed transit exchange was designed to support future transit service expansion and allowed the city to better serve customers of the West Kootenay Transit System, noted city chief financial officer, Chris Jury, in his report to council on the matter.

“The transit exchange will help improve the accessibility and convenience of public transit, making it a more attractive option for residents and tourists to travel to, from, and within the city,” he said. “A well-designed transit exchange can become an effective and thriving pedestrian friendly hub of social and economic activity.”

Council voted in favour of entering into a project agreement with BC Transit for the design and construction of the new transit exchange, and proceed with developing a detailed design for the exchange, based on a preliminary design concept previously presented.

In October of last year an updated conceptual design for the exchange — proposed for the 300 block of Victoria Street — was delivered, with feedback received in follow-up meetings with the various stakeholders.

Making a case

The business case was finalized and submitted for ICIP approval in late 2021.

Earlier this year BC Transit and the city were notified that their grant application was successful with a project budget of $2.4 million — federal and provincial funding to cover 80 per cent of the eligible costs.

The project agreement had to be in place before the detailed design stage of the project could begin, with BC Transit tasked with securing a contractor for completing the detailed design.

The contractor would work with the city and Development Services to ensure that the plan for the exchange “fits with an overall vision for the downtown, and specifically the 200-400 block area of Victoria Street.”

As well, the detailed design will also address the types of shelters and configuration, as well as trade-offs between parking, mid-block crosswalk and other amenities.

In the details

BC Transit government relations manager Seth Wright said previously that development of a detailed design would address questions and concerns, with several key themes to left to resolve, including the loss of parking to create the bus stops at the top of the list.

Despite some work on re-configuring parking prior to the workshops, business owners on the street and in adjacent areas still have reservations in losing parking to make way for spaces to park transit buses.

“There’s still some concern over parking in terms of parking impacts, and the exchange, and what those changes would mean to their business,” Tania Wegwitz of Watt Consulting told city council last November.

Work had been done to explore different options in terms of what parking could be located on the 200 block of Victoria through reconfiguration, as well as other streets such as Kootenay, and try to maximize options there, Wegwitz said.

In a revised plan all parking on the southeast corner of Kootenay Street at Victoria Street was restored and made standard size.

Multiple options for parking reconfiguration were explored on other parts of Kootenay as well, with a proposed option adding five spaces over previous plans.

The public washroom for the exchange was moved to the other end of the block — on corner of Stanley at Victoria by library and police station — after much concern was expressed regarding the first washroom location.