Lunenburg's busy slate of infrastructure projects will face the challenge of a heavily congested town as work gets underway this summer.
The town will undertake a number of construction projects during the May to September tourist season, including constructing a boat launch near Broad Street, and work that breaks ground on Lincoln and Pelham, two of the busier streets in historic Old Town.
Now, council's priority is ensuring those streets are usable from August 10–13, when both the 2017 Talls Ships Regatta and Lunenburg Folk Harbour Festival hit the town for what members of the tourism industry expect could be the busiest season on record.
"Basically we're going to try to keep it to a point where we'll have Lincoln done and closed with the first layer of pavement on it," said Deputy Mayor Peter Mosher, filling in for an absent Mayor Rachel Bailey. "Then Pelham, we're looking for that week of the festival that it would be at least passable with gravel."
At its meeting on April 11, council awarded a tender for the two projects to JR Eisener Contracting Ltd., with a total cost estimated at $2.1 million - over $1 million below the original estimate.
The town is only paying one quarter of that. The Lincoln and Pelham projects were two of three the town had approved under the Clean Water and Wastewater Funding Program last August, which contributed 75 per cent of the cost of municipal projects from the federal and provincial governments.
Work on Lincoln is scheduled from May to July, and will take up space between King and Kempt streets. On Pelham, work is expected from August to October between Hopson Street and Shipyard Road, bringing the expected length of the projects to a total of 22 weeks.
It's a central, business-heavy part of town, but Mosher says it's work that needs to be done.
"The street needs to be excavated and new piping put in," he said. "I think everyone's aware that that's going to happen and it's necessary, so there's not much we can do."
Elsewhere, town engineer Marc Belliveau said though it's been slightly delayed getting started, he expects work on the Brook Street sewer upgrades to begin in the next two weeks.
The construction of a boat launch on Broad Street has also been held up, said Belliveau, because of "contaminated soil" in the area, which he told council he's waiting for more info on.
Even without construction, congestion in Old Town is an ongoing challenge for Lunenburg. Last summer, Shelah Allen of Lunenburg Walking Tours told council it needs to look at revamping its destination services, including access to public bathrooms and a parking solution on the waterfront.
This summer, the town will install five parking metres on Bluenose Drive, with four-hour time limits, in hopes of keeping things moving on the waterfront. The metres are going on spots that previously allowed cars to park for free all day.
"The bottom line is that the town's congested, so the idea behind meter parking is that traffic will move there," said Mosher. "But we also have to be aware that people want to stay here longer than two hours, and we don't want them to be chasing back to their meter all the time ... You're trying to accommodate your tourists by letting them relax and enjoy the town."