Huntsville town council members have decided downtown Main Street water and sewer line replacement as well as streetscape renovations should start in spring 2021.
“We were having a discussion earlier today about, if this resolution goes through tonight, getting a plan in place on how we can best mitigate the impact on the downtown core and business,” Huntsville mayor Karin Terziano told her fellow councillors.
According to town staff, infrastructure had reached end of life, was at constant risk of failure and needed replacement.
Terziano said the interest in aiding downtown business through construction was due to lessons learned from King William Street.
Town staff and the Downtown Huntsville BIA both conducted surveys that found, while several respondents wanted construction delayed to 2022, most preferred a one-season construction schedule to start in 2021.
Coun. Tim Withey, the lone council vote in opposition to a 2021 start, noted few of those he, personally, talked to wanted to start in 2021 and some even wanted to delay construction for several years more, if possible, in order to financially recover from the COVID-19 crisis.
Coun. Nancy Alcock said she, too, had several discussions with those not in favour of a 2021 construction start, but also had several conversations with those who were in favour.
Those in favour, she said, argued business would likely lag into 2021 due to the ongoing effect of the COVID-19 crisis, so it made most sense to complete the work next year rather than following two years of economic hardship with a year of construction.
The town now planned to communicate with the District of Muskoka, which is responsible for municipal water and sewer infrastructure in Muskoka, on council’s preferred start date.