Makeover on Mill Street

The transformation of Chilliwack's Mill Street to a greener, one-way street with widened sidewalks is underway.

Pedestrians make their way along Mill Street as road construction was well underway on the one-block street on Monday.

Get ready for café culture in Chilliwack’s downtown core.

The transformation of Mill Street to a greener, one-way street with widened sidewalks is underway.

It’s been a dream of those working toward downtown revitalization for years, and now it’s on target for a three-month building window.

The heavy equipment has been ripping up the black top in preparation for water, sewer and storm drain replacement as well as a new road surface on Mill Street and wider sidewalks on one side.

“I’m super excited to see this project come to fruition,” says Coun. Ken Popove, chair of the Downtown Plan Implementation Committee.

“It’s been part of what’s needed here for a long time.

“People have the perception of us knocking down buildings and making parking lots but this is what we’re working toward in terms of redevelopment.”

City officials have worked closely with the Downtown Business Improvement Association to configure project upgrades that worked for both property and business owners.

“Widening Mill Street will make it even more pedestrian friendly,” Kyle Williams, Downtown Chilliwack BIA executive director, told The Progress.

One lane of traffic is being removed to make it one way, but they kept all of the parking spaces.

Throughout the consultation process about the upgrades, business owners said they wanted a scenario that maximized parking along with wider sidewalks, and greener streets as the upshot of the downtown greening strategy.

The City of Chilliwack used this feedback to develop a plan that will widen the sidewalk on the west side of the street by 40 per cent while maintaining the number of on street parking through converting the street to one way traffic.

“It will give things a fresh, new, clean look, and will allow some of the restaurants to put out some patio tables and chairs,” Popove says. “Wellington Avenue and Central Community Park will bookend the street.”

All of these pieces are a step in the right direction, said the councillor, and he adds he hopes affected businesses suffer as little inconvenience as possible during the construction phase.

“We’re going full speed ahead.”

Completion is scheduled for mid April 2014. A tender for $529,132.49 was awarded to Strohmaier’s Excavating in December.