Though they are currently filled with snow, come spring, the new concrete medians along Nicola Avenue through Merritt will sport large trees to complete the City of Merritt’s beautification project of the roadway.

The landscaping work will begin as soon as weather permits and is expected to be complete sometime in June — just in time “for the summer tourist season,” the city’s chief administrative officer Shawn Boven told the Herald.

Shawn Boven, Chief Administrative Officer for the City of Merritt.

Shawn Boven, Chief Administrative Officer for the City of Merritt.

“It’ll be a good enhancement down there,” Boven said.

Despite having a budget of nearly $1 million, the city has stayed well under budget with the awarding a tender for landscaping work.

At its last meeting (Jan. 24), city council unanimously approved awarding the tender to Sierra Landscaping for $170,276 — which, when all is said and done should mean the city will spend about $115,000 less than the $980,000 budgeted for the project.

The City of Merritt was able to carry forward even more savings on the project due to the fact that part of the work included redoing the waterlines underneath Nicola Avenue — which meant that funds were able to be diverted from a different city fund reserved for capital water projects.

The money left over from this project is expected to be put towards adding turn lanes on Voght Street where it intersects with Nicola Avenue.

Director of Finance, Sheila Thiessen said the cost of the project is covered through provincial gas tax funds the city receives annually — and not general taxation of residents.

The city received five bids for this contract, and Sierra Landscaping’s was the cheapest.

The six medians along Nicola Avenue were rebuilt by the provincial government when it repaved the road and conducted waterline work last fall to the tune of about $624,000.

“Of that more than half of it is related to redoing the waterlines underneath  the road, so that’s being picked up as part of the water capital projects for 2016,” said Thiessen. Now all that remains is filling the structures with plants and adding in an irrigation system.

Boven told the Herald that blue oat grass, Swedish columnar aspen trees, stella d’oro daylilly and October daphne stonecrop will be amongst the vegetation planted in the medians.

He also said the Class A biosolids soil amendment product the city produces at its biosolids composting facility may be used “down the road” to help the plants grow.