Business owners are being consulted on Mill Street in Chilliwack to see what they think of a change to a one-way street with wider sidewalks.

Mill Street in Chilliwack could cultivate a café culture

One option is to switch from two-way traffic to one-way traffic going north, and it was chosen by a majority of the stakeholders

Planning for an upgrade to Mill Street in downtown Chilliwack is well underway.

It could become a one-way street by early 2014.

The idea for an upgrade first emerged in 2007 during the early stages of the downtown planning process, with a more verdant vision of Mill Street with wider sidewalks and outdoor patios, as well as street trees.

But the design meant sacrificing the parking on one side of the street, which was seen as a red flag and of big concern to local merchants.

Council approved a plan Tuesday to consult with affected business operators and owners over the details of option C, which offered the most on-street parking spaces of the five options presented.

“What we hope to do is develop a consultation package with facts and figures to help businesses understand what is being proposed,” said Rod Sanderson, city manager of Transportation and Drainage.

Option C features a switch from two-way traffic to one-way traffic going north, and it was chosen by a majority of the stakeholders who attended a meeting to consider the options.  A few businesses did not select option C, including one that proposed an entirely new option.

“Much of the impact will be one of perception,” said the city staffer, since one-way streets are both “effective and efficient.”

They just take some getting used to, he added.

Local merchants and owners also had input to offer on the construction timing, asking city officials to complete the upgrade during the January- March work window.

“This period was selected to minimize business loss,” according to the staff report, “(and) stakeholders were advised and understood that this period comes with reduced construction efficiencies due to weather.”

The costs of surfacing and underground work, at an estimated $510,000 are contained in the 2013 budget.

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