A “gateway feature” at the southwest corner of Beverly Street and the Trans Canada Highway is on the drawing board again.
It was recommended at a joint council meeting between the City of Duncan and the Municipality of North Cowichan on Sept. 4 that a consultant be hired to study and suggest options for a gateway feature at the site, as well as for a municipal gathering place and a section of a pedestrian walkway.
Both councils still have to ratify the recommendation at future council meetings.
As part of the land exchanges between Duncan, North Cowichan, the Cowichan Exhibition, School District 79, and Vancouver Island University to establish Cowichan Place over several hectares in that area in the early 2000s, Duncan and North Cowichan originally had wanted a jointly held triangle of land at the site for some sort of gateway feature.
The Cowichan Place concept included the Cowichan Community Centre (now the Island Savings Centre) and construction of Vancouver Island University, which has now been completed, but much of the plans for the remaining site are held up waiting for the green light to build a new Cowichan Secondary School there.
No design was ever created for the anticipated gateway feature.
At a joint council meeting in 2015, staff were asked to work on investigating the possibilities at this corner.
It was discovered at the time that the final survey plans did not create a separate parcel, and would only leave a small amount of road allowance for the gateway project at the corner.
As staff became increasingly busy with the amalgamation discussions between Duncan and North Cowichan, and other projects, the gateway feature concept was not pursued any further.
In preparation for the recent joint council meeting, Duncan’s council asked for an update on the status of the gateway feature project, and staff recommended the hiring of a consultant to prepare a report.
Sharon Jackson, chairwoman at the joint council meeting, said some adjacent land to the small piece of property at the corner may have to be leased or bought to accommodate any plans for a municipal gathering place and pedestrian walkway.
She said the original concept for the gateway feature was some sort of welcome sign decoratively surrounded by plants and rocks.
Jackson said the site is ideally located to inform south-bound drivers on the Trans Canada Highway that they are entering the south end of the Valley, as well as Cowichan Place area.
She said there are no design concepts or budgets in place yet for the gateway feature, which would have to wait until the consultant’s report is tabled if both councils decide to move forward with the report.