The Town of Hanna is planning a downtown revitalization project to replace its services and bring in a new streetscape.
Mayor Danny Povaschuk tells the Mail the plan has gone to engineering.
“For all intents and purposes, we have $4 million put aside from the coal revitalization grant for coal transition, and we are going to put it out to tender probably in January and, depending on what tenders come back, we are going to go ahead,” said Povaschuk. “We have about $5.6 million planned.”
He explains the project will include tearing up the streets and sidewalks and replacing infrastructure such as water mains, sewer, storm sewer, gas and power to each building, and replacing the streets, with amenities such as benches, street lighting and garbage receptacles.
The project will take on Main Street from 2nd Street West where the town office is located, to Centre Street.
“We will be taking it a block at a time,” he said. “There will be two or three gathering spaces and some bump-outs at the corners to safely flow traffic and make it easier to cross the street.”
He says they are targeting the project to take two months to compete next spring.
“Hopefully we can pull it off, but Mother Nature can be an uncooperative partner,” said Povaschuk.
Mark Nikota of Harvest Sky Region Economic Development Corporation explains the revitalization project came out of the Community Development Plan put forward through the coal transitioning funding.
“The Coal Transition fund sort of did the initial Eight One Eight planning work, background work, and stakeholder engagement. Now it is going to be a separate pot of money, the Coal Transition Infrastructure grant,” said Nikota, noting the project is now completely in the town’s wheelhouse.
“It is just another tick on the box of making the community more attractive to tourists, businesses and residents,” said Nikota. “What we have done is get people to recognize what a great region it is, and whether that is advertising or community development, if we are not willing to invest in our own community, why would anybody else?”
Wayne Adamarczuk is the owner of Berkes Jewellers in downtown Hanna. He has some concerns about the project.
“Tearing up the main Street is the concern. I know the town needs infrastructure work, downtown especially,” he said.
He notes that it could be hard on businesses as construction limits access to businesses that are already struggling.
“Things aren’t busy as it is, it's just going to deter business,” said Adamarczuk. “ I don’t see anything positive, especially during the construction phase for sure. It is going to hurt the majority of businesses downtown.”
He says other businesses are concerned as well, not knowing if there will be access to their buildings during the construction. He also notes there is a timeframe for the grant to be used.
“Anybody on Main Street is concerned for sure, it means when you lose half or maybe two-thirds of your business. Unless they can give us compensation of some sort to help us through. Like the government gave us business aid through COVID to a certain degree,” he said.