Homefinder: Cook Street improvements win award

Infrastructure upgrades can have an impact on realty demand

Traffic-calming plant boxes are a key feature of the Cook Street Complete Street project

Saanich’s recently completed restoration of Cook Street from Maplewood Road north to Quadra Street has earned the Public Works Association of B.C.’s Project of the Year Award.

The redesign of Cook Street, a Complete Street project, added raised bike lanes, designated parking spots (instead of boulevard parking), crosswalks and slowing features such as centre-lane garden beds.

Among the esthetic improvements is an oddly placed but attractive brick-laid mini-plaza at Cook and Wicklow Street, as well as four rain gardens.

The project was recognized for “successfully integrating safety, environmental and social benefits with a balance of transportation modes,” according to a release.

Saanich director of engineering Harley Machielse said the district is  excited about being chosen for the award

It brings an added awareness to the fact that Cook Street, and the surrounding neighbourhood of Maplewood, is a desirable location with its natural geography, sizeable lots and proximity to downtown.

Cook Street’s separated cycle track (which will eventually connect to more) brings an ease of mind to those who seek safe, alternative transportation routes.

Machielse came to the job last year from Vancouver where he’s seen similar improvements have an impact on the area.

“I’ve heard through realtors that where we put in active transportation corridors has had an impact on real estate pricing,” Machielse said. “Based on my Vancouver experience, bike routes do have an effect, buyers do look for bike routes, they can impact property values.”

Saanich had completed most of the planning and neighbourhood consulting on Cook Street prior to Machielse’s arrival as it needed almost all of its infrastructure replaced.

“It gave [Saanich] a rare opportunity to build a road corridor using new design principles to effectively serve road users while enhancing the neighbourhood,” he said.

One thing that went well for Saanich on the Cook Street project was the consultation of open houses and feedback. It helped shape what the street looked like.

“In fact we’ll probably come back to Cook Street in the winter for some slight changes,” Machielse said.

The district is particularly proud of the new street’s storm water management, with the rain gardens and 45 new trees, as well as the full replacement of underground infrastructure.

The Cook Street Complete Street won the PWABC Project of the Year Award over the other finalist, Grand Forks, with its project City Hall Fire: Devastation to Restoration.

The award was presented in Penticton at the Public Works Association of B.C.’s annual convention and trade show.

 

reporter@saanichnews.com

 

 

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