City pitching province on Braecrest redesign
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The City of Brandon has proposed to the provincial government a cost-sharing agreement to address safety concerns at the intersection of Braecrest Drive and 18th Street North.
This was revealed to residents by Brandon’s director of engineering Mark Allard during a Ward 1 meeting at the Riverbank Discovery Centre on Thursday evening.
He said city and provincial officials had met multiple times earlier this year to discuss the future of the intersection with another meeting scheduled for next week. As part of a provincial highway, Manitoba Transportation and Infrastructure has jurisdiction over 18th Street North.
The intersection was raised as a safety concern during last year’s municipal election. An 84-year-old woman died in a collision there in 2016.
Allard said the hope is the city will issue a request for proposals for a new intersection design this winter with construction proceeding sometime next year.
“Hopefully, the province supports our proposal. They seemed interested,” Allard said.
A roundabout design had previously been pitched for the intersection and was mentioned as a possibility again on Thursday. Multiple residents expressed doubts a roundabout was the right solution.
Safe pedestrian crossings will be implemented in the final design, according to Allard.
Talks are also underway for changes at the intersection of Richmond Avenue East and Highway 110, where a motorist died in a three-vehicle collision in October 2021.
Approximately 40 people attended the meeting, the first held by Coun. Heather Karrouze since she was voted onto city council in last fall’s municipal election. Ward 1 encompasses all parts of the city north of the Assiniboine River.
She was joined by Brandon Police Service Chief Wayne Balcaen, Brandon Fire and Emergency Services Chief Terry Parlow, general manager of operations Patrick Pulak, Allard and councillors Shawn Berry (Ward 8) and Greg Hildebrand (Ward 5).
Delivering an update on behalf of police activities in Ward 1, Balcaen said there was an observed rise in property crime last year and a five-year increase of about 19 per cent.
“A lot of that has to do with retail theft and you have a large number of retail outlets at the Corral Centre as well as businesses on the frontage roads,” he said. “We’re also coming out of a pandemic where people had problems with finances and bills to pay.”
Balcaen said this problem is not isolated to Brandon, however.
He also reported a 13 per cent increase in crimes against people in the last five years, with a total per-year average of 81.4 calls for service, but the chief noted that incidents at the Brandon Correctional Centre are counted as taking place in the ward.
On the police cadet program the BPS is ramping up, Balcaen said the hiring process has begun with background checks on some candidates underway. The plan is still to launch the cadet program this summer.
A resident of the Spruce Woods Housing Co-op on Braecrest Drive told Balcaen she and her neighbours had noticed an increase in the number of people coming off the street to peer through vehicle windows in their parking lot.
The chief told her that reporting those incidents to the police helps inform them where hot spots are and what areas need more frequent patrols.
Another resident raised a concern that came up multiple times during last year’s municipal election: panhandlers in and around Corral Centre. He told Balcaen that he’d recently seen a panhandler dancing in the middle of the street and asked if police could deal with the issue.
At an upcoming meeting of Brandon City Council, Balcaen said, he will address a new community standards bylaw, which is up for third reading, that will include provisions about panhandling, among other things.
So far this year, Parlow said BFES has received more than 3,000 calls for service, with more than 400 of those coming from Ward 1. Most of those responses were by ambulances.
In this year’s budget deliberations, Karrouze successfully proposed adding funds so Ward 1 could get a community garden. Pulak told those assembled that the chosen location is near the Sportsplex and 10 raised beds will likely be installed in time for next spring.
He said the city is looking for a volunteer co-ordinator for the garden and is accepting applications.
This year’s budget deliberations also saw Karrouze pass a motion to add funding for an outdoor ice surface somewhere in Ward 1.
Of some locations that have been proposed, Pulak said Kirkcaldy School doesn’t want the liability of having it, Hanbury Hill presents challenges because of the slope, and the Riverbank Discovery Centre has no appetite for hosting it because of a desire to maintain the natural features of its grounds. Work is ongoing to identify a suitable location.
Discussing repairs to the ice plant at the Sportsplex, Pulak said the hope is to have repairs completed by sometime in August. At a ward meeting earlier this year, city staff said these repairs would prolong the ice arena’s life for another two years.
Currently, the city is looking to hire a consultant to help create a design for potential renovations to the facility. Should the public express an interest in keeping an ice arena at the revamped building, Pulak said the cost of fully replacing the plant could be more than $2 million.
One resident said they thought ward residents would prefer an outdoor splash park than an outdoor ice surface, because of the presence of the Sportsplex. Karrouze said the cost of a splash park would be much higher than an ice surface and there wasn’t room in the budget.
Pulak pointed out the city’s recreation master plan includes a splash park in the ward and will likely come up in a future year.
» Twitter: @ColinSlark
Updated on Friday, May 26, 2023 2:30 PM CDT: An earlier version of this article had incorrect information regarding the percentage of increase in crime as presented by Brandon Police Chief Wayne Balcean. This has been corrected.