COURTENAY, B.C. – The 5th Street Complete Street project is, officially, finished.

Courtenay Mayor Bob Wells celebrated the completion along with Nanaimo MLA Sheila Malcolmson and other guests this afternoon.

The project was made possible by a $3.25 million federal grant and $41,000 from the ICBC Road Safety program.

The event unveiled new rain garden signage to mark the rain gardens along 5th Street.

The upgrades on 5th Street between Menzies and Fitzgerald Avenues included:

  • Bike lanes separated by rain gardens and/or on-street parking;
  • New landscaping and rain gardens that capture rainwater and naturally filter out pollutants before it returns to local waterways;
  • Shorter crosswalks and sloped curbing to make it easier for wheelchairs and strollers;
  • New tactile strips to aid those with visual impairments;
  • Fresh pavement, new signage, and lane markings;
  • And new, larger capacity stormwater, sewage, and water mains. The new infrastructure replaces pipes installed 60 years ago, providing greater durability and capacity for the future.”

According to the city, the project “provided an opportunity to replace aging underground infrastructure and introduce innovative management practices to more effectively manage rainwater.”

Courtenay Mayor Bob Wells noted that these are Courtenay’s first separated bike paths that will provide that extra layer of protection for cyclists.

He added that the project will prove to be a useful test model moving forward.

“This project isn’t just about providing a safer way for multi-mode of transportation,” he added.

“Yes, cars can go on it, bikes can go on it, strollers, wheelchairs, etc. But it also informs works that we do going into the future. How much does it cost to do that extra level of separation for bike lanes? How much does it cost to really do a project of this scope and use that information for informing us into the future.”

The federal funding came from the Gas Tax Strategic Priorities Fund, which supports infrastructure to support sharing the roadway for people who drive, walk, and cycle.

Wells said the project was about safety for pedestrians and cyclists on one of the city’s busiest streets.

“It’s just an extra level of safety,” he added. “And where the crosswalks are, they actually make for shorter crossings, which again makes it a safer conduit to get around the city.”