Municipality launches virtual information hub for Victoria Ave. project

Victoria Avenue (Photo via Municipality of Chatham-Kent website)

The Municipality of Chatham-Kent is sharing the latest updates with residents about the controversial Victoria Avenue infrastructure renewal project.

The municipality’s engineering department has opened up its second public information session for the Chatham project.

The public information centre provides residents with a detailed look at the engineering design for the project, which runs from Thames Street to McNaughton Avenue East. Within the public information centre, residents can find a video that details the plans as well as project drawings.

In May 2020, council approved the sewer replacement project on Victoria Avenue from McNaughton Avenue to Thames Street. The main attributes of the project include sewer separation, installing a dedicated storm sewer with private services, water main replacement and road resurfacing.

However, administration also successfully recommended completing several other jobs along the roadway while it was ripped up for the infrastructure project. These include adding a 1.5 metre wide ‘in-road’ bike lane along both sides of Victoria Avenue from McNaughton Avenue to Thames Street and widening Victoria Avenue at the McNaughton Avenue and Grand Avenue intersections to allow for dedicated left-turn lanes.

The project proposal quickly drew outrage and concern from residents living along the street. In March 2020, a Facebook group named Save Victoria Ave- Voices for Victoria was created.

Some of the most common concerns that staff heard were that the project would negatively impact and diminish the heritage of the street.

According to details listed on the public information centre webpage, maintaining the heritage, culture and overall characteristics of Victoria Avenue has been incorporated into the design as well as continuing with decorative themed streetlights along the roadway.

According to staff, only a few trees will be impacted by the project, which was another concern of residents in the area.

“Two smaller trees on the east side of Victoria between Forest Street and Selkirk Street will be impacted by the proposed road widening to accommodate the bike lanes,” says the report.

The public information centre is being held virtually until March 1 and can be viewed by clicking here.

The next step of the project is to submit the project for approvals and permits from upper levels of government, which is planned for this spring or summer. Staff is hoping to start phase 1 of construction in late 2022.