Selkirk innovative road reconstruction project earns engineering 'Oscar'

·3 min read

A major road reconstruction project in the city of Selkirk that was designed with the goal of attracting more residents and tourists to the city’s downtown core, and creating more active transportation options has been awarded a prestigious engineering award.

“This award is like the Manitoba engineering Oscars,” Selkirk CAO Duane Nicol said in a media release on Monday, reacting to the news that a project that saw seven blocks of Selkirk’s Eveline Street completely rebuilt in the downtown area of the city has been named the 2023 winner of the Association of Consulting Engineers Companies (ACEC) of Manitoba Award of Excellence in Transportation.

Last March, Selkirk, a city of about 10,000 residents located about 25 kilometres north of Winnipeg, announced plans for the $7.5 million project, and said that along with reconstructing seven blocks of Eveline Street, it would also include the addition of more and improved ways for people to get around Selkirk by cycling or walking.

The project, which is now completed, includes not only a road reconstruction, but also the addition of an active transportation pathway that connects walkers and cyclists to the city’s downtown, and to and from other local landmarks like the Selkirk Waterfront, Selkirk Park, and the Marine Museum of Manitoba.

The city said the project also brought the street to “modern standards for accessibility” while improving lighting and public safety.

The project also utilized ‘silva cells,’ which store rainwater underground to water trees along the street, rather than having to water them manually, and the city said that move is something that also makes the project “climate resilient.”

According to the City of Selkirk, engineering consulting firm J.R. Cousins, the company that worked on the project, submitted the project to be considered for the ACEC award, which it has now been awarded.

Selkirk’s Deputy Mayor April Hourie said she believes the award is well deserved, because it not only saw the roadway greatly improved, but also saw upgrades made that she said will make the city’s downtown more “accessible, livable and vibrant.”

“J.R. Cousins along with HTFC Planning and Design, has done a fantastic job of translating our community vision on to paper and then into reality,” Hourie said. “This is all part of our strategic vision for a more vibrant downtown, developing of outdoor spaces, and capitalizing on our tourism and retail potential.

“With these enhancements, the downtown has become an ideal place to live.”

Hourie said the city had a “progressive vision” for Eveline Street, and said J.R. Cousins turned that “vision into reality.”

Matt Fisher, the senior municipal engineer with J.R. Cousins, said the company was “pumped” to learn that the project has been named the winner of the award, because he said it was a project that from the beginning had a “vision.”

“The vision of the City of Selkirk was extremely clear,” Fisher said. “They wanted to build a great downtown. They really wanted active transportation and accessibility to make sure the road was accessible and great for all citizens, and to really promote not just driving along the street, but the use of sidewalks, and the active transportation pathways.

“That was a really key focus.”

Selkirk city councillor Lorie Fiddler said that with the street in need of a reconstruction it “made sense to make it more accessible, safer and more attractive.”

“It’s part of our Strategic Plan to revitalize our downtown,” Fiddler said.

“All the planning and forethought has achieved the goals of accessibility, safety, and aesthetically pleasing, and Eveline is now an award-winning example of design.”

— Dave Baxter is a Local Journalism Initiative reporter who works out of the Winnipeg Sun. The Local Journalism Initiative is funded by the Government of Canada.

Dave Baxter, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Winnipeg Sun