In order to quickly complete utility work and the Downtown Reimagined streetscaping project, Queen Street and Main Street in downtown Brampton will have full street closures for up to three years.

The Region of Peel will begin to replace and upgrade utilities in downtown Brampton, including water mains and sanitary sewers.

Regional councilor Elaine Moore (Wards 1 & 5) mentioned there were 48 water main breaks in the downtown since 2008, far more than any other area in the city.

City staff say that the upgrades will be able to accommodate growth numbers from future developments like the university, condominiums, and new businesses.

Downtown Streetscape Layout // Courtesy of HDR, DTAH, and Moon-Matz
Downtown Streetscape Layout // Courtesy of HDR, DTAH, and Moon-Matz

In addition to the needed infrastructure work, the City of Brampton proposed a street renovation project called “Downtown Reimagined,” which will include wider sidewalks, separated bike lanes, and roads made of interlocking pavement. This area be on Queen between George and Chapel, and Main between Nelson and Wellington.

The new tree canopy would be connected via soil cell technology, giving trees room to grow, while also acting as passive storm water collection, reducing maintenance costs. Similar tree layouts can be seen in Toronto on Queen’s Quay West (another project by the same company, DTAH), where trees have grown quite a bit after only a few years. Seven varieties of trees have been chosen, such as elms, hackberries, oaks, maples, gingkos, and beeches.

The street lighting will be provided on “smart” poles, which could offer Wi-Fi connectivity and adjustable lighting. 129 bike locks, 35 benches, and 171 trees would be in place after the project.

Nelson Street Underpass // Courtesy of HDR, DTAH, and Moon-Matz
Nelson Street Underpass // Courtesy of HDR, DTAH, and Moon-Matz

The Nelson Street underpass at the rail corridor could have a new piece of public art, and the Züm stops may be relocated.

Three construction staging options were presented to committee of council by staff, ranging from three to eight years for the combined project. Staff recommended the shortest option, at most three years, which would fully close Queen and Main Streets. Pedestrian and business access would be maintained for business hours.

The longest option, seven to eight years, would see one lane of traffic maintained at all times and would have safety concerns for workers and could impede winter clearing options.

The second shortest option would last between 4.5 and six years; this option is combinations of maintaining one lane at all times and focusing on one corridor at a time. The big disadvantage with this option is that as road users and pedestrians adapt to one closure, they will have to adapt to a different one, which would lead to confusion and frustration.

The Downtown BIA, which represents businesses in the area affected, is in support of the full closure. In a delegation to committee of council on May 9, Suzy Godefroy, executive director of the BIA, said “we support the recommendation in the report” and that “we understand the complexity of this project, however, we need to rebuild this downtown.”

In front of City Hall (near Harmsworth Decorating) // Courtesy of HDR, DTAH, and Moon-Matz
In front of City Hall (near Harmsworth Decorating) // Courtesy of HDR, DTAH, and Moon-Matz

Dave Harmsworth, whose family business Harmsworth Decorating is the oldest operating business in the downtown, says this is the “finishing piece of the puzzle” and this demonstrates “35 years of commitment for the downtown.”

Dave Kapil, local investor and spokesperson of advocacy group New Brampton, echoed some of the comments from Godefroy’s presentation, noting that the utilities aren’t up to date, and that in his work, he’s noted some businesses that have wanted to locate in the area, but have ended up elsewhere because the local utilities aren’t up to standard.

Concerned with recent incidents such as the Toronto Van attack, city council Gurpreet Dhillon (Wards 9 & 10) brought up the idea of concrete bollards along the street. City staff mentioned that the design is at 60 per cent completion, but they are considering it. A representative from DTAH, the design consultants, did mention that the street furniture could act as a wall.

Council unanimously approved the quickest construction option. During the closure, there will be work on rejigging traffic signals, marketing and communications support for downtown businesses, and dedicated city and regional staff on-site during construction hours to handle immediate problems.

The Region of Peel will issue the tender for construction for Fall 2018, and construction will begin late this year.