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Downtown rejuvenation begins

First element complete on Sudbury’s green corridor project
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In March, construction crews put the final touches on Greater Sudbury’s Elgin Street underpass, the first component of the city’s long-awaited Elgin Greenway project.

Work on the underpass began last fall, with crews continuing through the winter to complete the access tunnel. It has both stairs and a ramp, giving pedestrians and cyclists a way to safely cross under the CP Railway tracks, which bisect the downtown.

The Greenway project proposes a one-kilometre walking and cycling corridor snaking through the downtown core and leading to the city’s Bell Park area. It’s part of Greater Sudbury’s 10-year plan to renew and refresh the downtown core.

“I think it’s an important piece of the Downtown Master Plan,” said Ed Landry, a senior planner with the City of Greater Sudbury. “It creates that ‘green necklace’ around downtown.”

The idea behind the ‘green necklace’ is to break up the asphalt, brick and concrete by interspersing it with more natural attributes, such as grass, plants and trees, and connecting it to Bell Park, which sits on the shores of Ramsey Lake, one of the city’s largest waterbodies.

Led by EDA Collaborative landscape architects, the project team includes Tulloch Engineering, Yallowega Belanger Architects and the BA Group. The Greenway has been broken up into three phases, and the city is currently dealing with just phase one, Landry said. In light of the upcoming municipal election, it would be up to future councils to approve phases two and three, he noted.

Phase one comes with a $3.78-million price tag, which is down from the original $8.5-million project, after the Greenway was reduced in size from its original scope to make the project more manageable and affordable.

The project will be jointly funded by the city, the Downtown Sudbury Business Improvement Area, and the Greater Sudbury Development Corp., and the city is also applying to senior levels of government for some additional financial help.

“Last year the Elgin Greenway was included in the 2018 municipal budget contingent on receiving the provincial and the federal funding,” Landry said. “So we're still actively working with the province and the feds to obtain that funding.”

Phase one will consist of landscaping, civil engineering, site furnishings, several plazas, and a footbridge. Landry said some of the funds could be generated through sponsorship opportunities or private donations.

Though the Greenway is on hold pending funding approvals, the city isn’t wasting time in tackling some additional ‘green necklace’ infrastructure.

This spring construction began on a new parkette and pathway that will connect Durham Street with Memorial Park, which is located in the centre of downtown.

Approved in 2015, the project will incorporate a stairway, a ramp and stairs, a small amphitheatre and some public art in a small space at the junction of Durham and Elgin streets. A concrete parkette with a few picnic tables previously inhabited the space, but the new version will be greener, more modern, and help point the way to Memorial Park.

“We had to go in there to fix the hydro vault anyway, so that was an opportunity to say, OK, how can we create better links to Memorial Park,” Landry said.

That work complements a rehabilitation job on the courtyard at Tom Davies Square (city hall), which is currently underway and is slated for completion by the end of 2018.

All together, these various components are bringing a refreshed, cohesive look to the area, noted Landry.

“It’s a whole systematic look at to how we experience the downtown,” he said.