McArthur Island improvements ongoing

The ring road's repaving will be finished this spring, while city plans to resume work this year on its McArthur Island community park project, a $970,000, three-phased plan to transform the former golf course into a mixed-use park space. Also on tap is a cultural signage project with the Tk’emlups te Secwépemc First Nation.

Improvements have been made to McArthur Island of late and the city plans more upgrades to the recreation mecca this year.

All told, the improvements total about $2 million.

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A drive around the ring road provides a glimpse. The first stretch of the one-way street — into the park and past the butterfly gardens — is bumpy and potholed. Meanwhile, the south side of the ring road, from the old golf course clubhouse to the arena, is so smooth the city added speed bumps.

The city’s capital projects manager Darren Crundwell said the area was closed for three weeks last summer for the first phase of the McArthur Island ring road rehabilitation project, a $950,000 project funded by community works funds.

“We repaved the whole road and fixed some of the low spots,” Crundwell said. “We separated the path in some areas. We added some irrigation.”

The flattening out and widening of the pathway has provided more accessible riverfront walking.

Phase two will see the remainder of the ring road repaved this spring. Crundwell anticipates the second phase will take less than two weeks to complete.

In addition to the ring road project, the city plans to resume work this year on its McArthur Island community park project, a $970,000, three-phased plan to transform the former golf course into a mixed-use park space. The project got started in 2019 after golf course owner Bill Bilton relinquished his lease with the city.

So far, golf course infrastructure has been removed, riparian protection work has been completed, a disc golf course has been installed and pathways have been created through the park. The second phase of the project was put on hold last year due to city budgeting concerns amidst the COVID-19 pandemic. The city’s parks manager, Jeff Putnam, said the remaining two phases, which total $812,000, will be split between 2021 and 2022.

Work to be completed this year include a picnic shelter, a bathroom and a pollinator garden. A playground is planned to be built in 2022.

Putnam said the city also applied for COVID-19 infrastructure funding to cover the entirety of that project and expects to find out later this year if that project will come to fruition. The city had hoped to construct the remainder of the project this year, but the funding source — gambling revenues — are down as a result of casinos being closed during the pandemic.

Also planned for the future is a cultural signage project, which is currently in the works with the Tk’emlups te Secwépemc First Nation.

“Making a real strong connection between Indigenous education and culture and native plants and fauna,” Putnam said. “It’s pretty cool.”

Putnam said the work just started and no timeline for completion has been established.

The city had planned for snowshoe and cross country ski trails at McArthur Island to give people another outdoor recreational outlet during the pandemic. However, Putnam said there was not enough snow, noting the city will consider higher elevations in the future.

At the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic, McArthur Island’s ring road was closed to vehicular traffic, allowing more space for people to get out for a safe walk, for about three months.

Putnam said that while the city did not have trail counters set up, it was extremely well-utilized. McArthur Island sports fields, meanwhile, benefited from a break, with team sports cancelled.

“Usually, we have to shut down fields and rotate them for maintenance,” Putnam said. “Usually, the adult groups are the hardest on them. Last year, we didn’t have to do a lot of that, so it did save us some money, for sure.”

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